After COVID-19 outbreak, students at one Sugar Grove school now must wear masks outside

Students at John Shields Elementary School in Sugar Grove, part of Kaneland School District 302, must now wear masks while outside at recess, and will be put in “recess zones” after a COVID-19 outbreak at the school.

According to a message Monday in the school’s e-newsletter, students will be required to wear masks while waiting at bus stops and while outside at recess unless they are 6 feet apart from others, and will “remain in recess zones” because of recent COVID-19 cases at the school.

“If a student needs a mask break, they can ask a monitor and they can help them find a spot 6 feet away from others,” the message stated.

Dr. Todd Leden, superintendent of Kaneland School District 302, said in an email that because of the positive COVID-19 cases at John Shields, the district decided to require masking at recess.

“In this specific instance, due to the number of positive COVID-19 cases at Kaneland John Shields, the [Kane County Health Department] investigated the situation as an outbreak due to the number of cases as well as the location of the students and staff who were impacted,” Leden said. “Based on the findings, which included utilizing seating charts, busing and bus stops, recess, lunch seating charts and classroom seating charts, they made the recommendation to move all students to masking outdoors for recess as the next layer of mitigation. We will continue to work with the KCHD to monitor this situation, with the goal to return to normal recess as soon as possible, when the metrics warrant.”

Leden added that masking at recess “is not a layer of mitigation that we want for our students, it is the next layer of mitigation that will allow us to keep classrooms in person and not consider an adaptive pause for remote learning.”

He said that the district will continue to monitor positive cases every day and post updated information on the district’s website.

Kane County Health Department spokeswoman Susan Stack said in an email the school administration made the decision to require children wear masks while at recess, after the several positive cases.

“In general, masking outdoors is not needed, however in areas with high numbers of COVID-19 cases, it is considered wearing a mask in crowded outdoor settings, and for activities with close contact with others who are not fully vaccinated,” Stack said.

A COVID-19 outbreak was reported on Aug. 27 at the school, 85 S. Main St., by the Illinois Department of Public Health.

According to the school district’s COVID-19 dashboard, John Shields had four positive cases for the week beginning Aug. 23, and 10 cumulative positive cases since school began Aug. 11. The positive cases included students and staff, according to the health department.

The outbreak is one of two reported in Kane County, the other one being East Aurora School District 131, which had fewer than five cases. The source was a classroom, according to the health department.

The health department last updated the information on Aug. 27.