IDPH: Four McHenry County, two District 300 schools see COVID-19 outbreak in past week

‘We expect more outbreaks, particularly in the vaccine naïve school populations,’ McHenry County Department of Health spokeswoman says

Four McHenry County schools plus two schools in Algonquin-based Community School District 300 located in Kane County are among the 81 schools with a COVID-19 outbreak within the Past 30 days, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Huntley School District 158′s Martin Elementary School in Lake in the Hills, Nippersink School District 2′s Spring Grove Elementary School and Crystal Lake Elementary School District 47′s Hannah Beardsley Middle School are the latest McHenry County schools to record an outbreak among students this week. Conley Elementary School in Algonquin, which also is a part of District 158, reported an outbreak on Monday.

District 300 also has two schools in Kane County with outbreaks: Gary D. Wright Elementary School in Hampshire and Sleepy Hollow Elementary School.

Kane County Health Department does not comment on cases at schools, spokeswoman Susan Stack said.

The IDPH defines an outbreak in a school as two or more cases of COVID-19 where the students and staff who tested positive may have a shared exposure on school grounds and are from different households. The state updates the number of schools with outbreaks each Friday. Last week, 26 schools had an outbreak compared with 81 this week.

“Of the four outbreaks, two outbreaks are related to the bus and the other two are in classrooms where mitigations were not strictly adhered to,” McHenry County Health Department spokeswoman Lindsey Salvatelli said.

It also appears the outbreak is mainly among students.

At Martin, the IDPH reported the outbreak was among fewer than five students, and District 158′s COVID-19 dashboard showed the school had five students total test positive. Fewer than five students also were involved in the outbreak at Hannah Beardsley, and the district reported 11 cases at the school. Gary D. Wright’s outbreak also involved fewer than five students, and the district reported 13 students and one staff member total tested positive at the school.

Not all cases are necessarily connected to the outbreaks.

District 47 spokeswoman Denise Barr said three students on one of Hannah Beardsley’s buses tested positive for the virus. Two of the positive tests were siblings. Barr said no other outbreaks had been identified at the school.

The outbreaks at Conley and Sleepy Hollow include students and staff members and involved between five and 10 people, the IDPH reported.

District 300 reported eight students and one staff member total have tested positive at Sleepy Hollow, while District 158 reported 18 students and one staff total member have tested positive at Conley.

District 158 spokeswoman Alex LeMoine said the outbreak at Martin occurred on Aug. 23 and 24 and no additional outbreaks had been identified in the school.

The outbreak at Conley was among students in a single classroom, according to the McHenry County health department. Improper masking and social distancing was identified as the cause, and the district said all students and staff members in that classroom have been quarantined.

The outbreak at Spring Grove is confined to staff members, according to the IDPH. The district reported three positive cases overall. District 2 Superintendent Thomas Lind said the two staff members who tested positive did not have contact with students.

District 300 did not respond to requests for more information about the outbreaks at their schools.

Salvatelli said school officials have been working hard to keep students safe, but it’s important everyone cooperate with COVID-19 mitigations inside and outside of school to minimize the risk, especially to students who can’t be vaccinated.

“We expect more outbreaks, particularly in the vaccine naïve school populations. We will not have zero transmission, especially in the vaccine naïve populations,” she said.

A vaccine naïve person is someone who is not able to get the vaccine, which is anyone younger than age 12 for the COVID-19 vaccines.

Gov. JB Pritzker announced last month all teachers would be required to get vaccinated or be tested weekly. The deadline was extended to Sept. 19 for educators to get their first dose.