Fenwick switches to e-learning through Jan. 18

School's president, Rev. Peddicord, cites increasing cases, difficulty contact tracing among reasons

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By Michael Romain

Staff Reporter

Fenwick High School will be reverting to e-learning from Nov. 20 through Jan. 18, the Oak Park Catholic school's president, Rev. Richard Peddicord, announced in a statement released Friday.

Peddicord said the decision was based on a variety of factors, including concerns about the health of faculty, staff and students; faculty and staffers quarantining or taking leaves of absence, resulting in the school's possible inability to "provide adequate supervision to students"; and the number of faculty and staffers who have relatives coming home from out-of-state colleges, or who may be traveling out of state, resulting in more employees needing to quarantine, among other factors.

Peddicord also referenced the fact that Oak Park, along with DuPage and Cook counties, have all been consistently around the 8 percent positivity rate threshold that puts the school in the high-risk category, during which local health departments recommend a 2-week switch to remote learning until the positivity rates decline.

Last month, Fenwick announced that it took a pause from in-person, hybrid learning "to assess and better understand the rise of COVID-19 cases in and around the school community and how it potentially affects the health and well-being of our students, families, faculty, staff and their families," Peddicord said in a statement released at the time.

In his Nov. 20 statement, Peddicord said if the school had not taken that "adaptive pause" following the Halloween weekend, "we almost certainly would have had up to 35 undiagnosed, non-symptomatic, but contagious cases of Covid-19 in the building. 

"We are very concerned about such a scenario in the wake of the Thanksgiving and New Year's weekends, which is why we are remote learning for two weeks after Thanksgiving and two weeks after New Year's."

Peddicord added that there have been an "increasing number of students this week and last who came to school not feeling well and we sent home. This was not the case earlier this year," before explaining that contact tracing is proving difficult due to "multiple points of exposure between student groups."

Email: michael@oakpark.com

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