Local News

Dixon’s Reagan Middle School goes on COVID-19 adaptive pause

The school reported 15 positive tests since Wednesday

DIXON — Having reported positive COVID-19 tests for 15 students over the past three days, Reagan Middle School said Friday it will be going on an adaptive pause until Jan. 28.

Principal Matthew Magnafici informed parents of the decision in a notice at the end of the school day on Friday.

In the letter, Magnafici said the Dixon Public Schools’ administration consulted with the Lee County Health Department before taking this step.

“In the last few weeks there have been increases in infection and quarantine rates at Reagan Middle School,” wrote Magnifici in the letter.

COVID-19 data released by the district for the week ending Jan. 15 showed that at Reagan there was an average of five positive cases among students, two among staff and quarantines for 14 other students.

The school has 570 students and 63 staff members.

The entire district took an emergency day off on Friday Jan. 14, citing an inadequate number of staff. The district also relied on the Martin Luther King holiday to serve as an extra day off.

By Wednesday, the district reported nine positive cases at Reagan. On Thursday there were three positive tests and, again on Friday, there were another three positive tests.

The decision-making that would lead the administration to put one building on adaptive pause instead of the entire district was explained by Superintendent Margo Empen after Wednesday’s meeting of the board of education.

“If we take an adaptive pause, it doesn’t automatically mean the entire district is going to go,” Empen said. “We look at our smallest populations first. Is it a classroom, perhaps, that needs to be put on remote learning? Is it an entire grade level? Is it a building? We look at all those.”

Empen said absences can be a determining factor in determining whether an adaptive pause is warranted, but added the situation “is always fluid.”

In the case of Reagan Middle, the building shares a campus with Madison Elementary. While Madison had three positive cases on Tuesday, two on Wednesday and four on Friday, it will not be going on an adaptive pause.

On Wednesday Empen said she looks at transmission numbers and positivity rates daily and consults with nurses and the health department: “I want parents to know we are constantly monitoring it. We appreciate when they keep kids at home when they are not feeling well, to make it as safe an environment as we can.”

In the letter, Magnafici emphasized that “An adaptive pause does not mean teaching and learning stops.”

Students and teachers will be working via Zoom for live instruction. Classes start at 9 a.m. and each class period will be 25 minutes long. Teachers will be available for additional assistance from 7:45 to 8:55 a.m. and from 1 to 2:15 p.m. Lunch breaks are scheduled between 10:30 and 11:30, depending on an individual student’s schedule.

Magnafici said students were expected to use their school-issued Chromebooks to log in. Attendance will be taken.

School provided breakfast and lunch bags are available for pickup at door 4 of the building starting at 8 a.m. Monday.

All athletic and activity practices and contests are suspended during the adaptive pause, the school said.

Troy Taylor

Troy E. Taylor

Was named editor for Saukvalley.com and the Gazette and Telegraph in 2021. An Illinois native, he has been a reporter or editor in daily newspapers since 1989.