Several suburban schools revert to virtual learning amid COVID-19 surge


NILES, Ill. – Several suburban school districts are going back to virtual learning this week as COVID-19 cases continue to surge. 

The decision has drawn mixed reactions from students, as some told WGN News they were excited about returning to the classroom following the holiday break. Despite the disappointment, many said they understand that returning to virtual learning is rooted in safety. 

“At first I was kind of like ‘ugh,'” Niles West student Alina Lukose said. “Virtual for two more weeks just to be on the safe side.”

But students are the only ones letting out a collective groan.  

“It’s hard as a parent, you know?” Evelyn Oppenheimer, the parent of Niles West senior, said.  

In Skokie’s District 219, Niles West students said the start to the 2022 school year is not exactly how they envisioned.

“I wasn’t surprised because I kind of keep track of the positivity rate and seeing how high it was just in Skokie made me think we’re probably going to shut down,” Niles West student Samantha Bailey said.   

Oppenheimer told WGN News she hopes the change to virtual learning is temporary.  

“It’s just like, endless,” she said. “It’s just like frustrating and also, for them, it’s like so uncertain, you know?”

On Monday, Lincoln-Way Community High School in New Lenox announced its students would be virtual for the rest of the week] due to staffing shortages and rising COVID-19 cases.  

 “Virtual, I feel, is really hard,” Niles West student-athlete Joshua Logsdon said. “I don’t follow all the material as well.”  

 “I think this year it might be easier, maybe,” Lukose countered. 

In Skokie, students were at school Tuesday to get covid tests and retrieve their homework.  

“I have gone to a couple of family gatherings and I just want to be on the safe side to make sure I don’t expose anyone if I’m a carrier and don’t know it,” Bailey said.  

Athletes have to continue their weekly shield tests and find rides to practice.  

“It’s a struggle but hopefully, it’s only two weeks,” Logsdon said.  

Parents hope COVID-19 cases start to trend downwards shortly.

“I think kids sometimes are resilient more than we are,” Oppenheimer said. “But at the same time, you know it’s hard for them. I wonder, in the long term, what it’s going to do to them psychologically?” 

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