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Peoria Public Schools Sees Smooth Return To Hybrid Learning

Peoria Public Schools has a low student COVID-19 positivity rate after the first week of students being back in classes.

Superintendent Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat said the district's positivity rate through the end of last week was just 0.9 percent.

"The first four days back, starting on the 19th, with the return to school, that implementation went exceptionally well, regarding students and staff," she said at the school board's meeting Monday night.

The first two weeks back to school after winter break were fully virtual, serving as a quarantine period after any holiday travel over the vacation.

Kherat said social distancing and mask-wearing rules were well-observed during her tours through the schools last week. About 9,500 students opted to return to some form of in-person learning this semester.

Students are on a hybrid A/B schedule, with only around half the in-person learner population physically present on any particular day.

District 150 is piloting antigen testing. PCR testing is being done through Reditus Labs.

Around 770 students were tested last week, and around 1,000 are up for testing this week.

Kherat also fielded a question from school board member Dr. Anni Reinking about teacher COVID-19 vaccinations. Teachers are included in the 1B vaccination group as frontline, non-health care workers.

Kherat said the district will work with teachers to help them make their appointments to receive the shot if they're called up by their health care provider.

"It goes by very, very quickly, so I get it," Kherat said of vaccine supply. "If they are able to get an appointment, I would say they should just work with their administrators. And I'm sure they'll be very receptive."

But with only around 5,000 or so vaccines available each week in Peoria County, and more than 50,000 people in Peoria County alone eligible for vaccination under the 1B rules, teachers might not be getting that call for an appointment right away.

The local health care system is prioritizing people age 65 and over for vaccination appointments.

Unlike other communities in the state, the Tri-County area isn't distributing vaccines to those eligible on a first-come, first-served basis. Instead, a multifaceted ranking system is used to determine in which order vaccination appointments are booked.

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