District 156 cancels classes, activities, athletics due to coronavirus

District officials make the decision to to close school starting Friday, March 13 through spring break to head off COVID-19


Madison Wise

MCHS District 156 cancelled all classes, extracurriculars, and academics starting March 13 until after spring break. The decision was made with the health of both the school’s students and community in mind.

Stacy Correra, Copy Editor

District 156’s administration and Board of Education made the precautionary decision to close down both East and West Campus due to concerns about COVID-19, also known as human coronavirus on Friday.

The decision will go into effect Friday after school. The Digital Learning Plan will be implemented starting Tuesday, March 17 and run until Friday, March 20.

“While we have no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in our school, we have had a number of students and staff diagnosed with whooping cough, Influenza A and B. Closing school for a period of time will also allow us to focus on everyone’s health.”

All activities, events, practices, and athletic competitions will be canceled starting March 13 through spring break, which will run as scheduled from March 23 through March 27.

“This is a very fluid situation, and our administrative team will be making decisions on a daily basis, in response to guidance from our public health agencies, state and local officials, and the State Board of Education with the protection of public health and our students in mind,” says Superintendent Ryan McTague in an email sent out on March 12.

While digital learning days cannot replicate the entire classroom experience, we are confident in our ability to provide essential learning through our online platform. For several years, we have been preparing to ensure that we are able to provide engaging, relevant activities and materials with our use of Schoology, 1:1 devices and extensive staff development.”

Multiple events have been canceled, including the St. Baldrick’s annual community shave, Symphonic Band nationals, IHSA’s journalism sectionals, the Vocal Warriors’ Kenosha Symphony Orchestra concert in Kenosha, West’s Mr. McHenry, the BPAC meeting, the Key Club convention to Springfield. More events are expected to be canceled in the near future. 

The Key Club-sponsored blood drive scheduled at both campuses was also canceled. Students who wish to receive the cord for donating blood for graduation are able to still donate at Lifesource in Crystal Lake and tell the staff there that they are from MCHS.

Students can expect to continue their learning from home via Schoology. The district’s digital learning coaches will work with teachers during an institute day on Monday, March 16 to plan these digital learning days, which will offset the need to expand the school year.

We are also working with our digital coaches and department leaders to deploy our digital learning plan,” McTague writes in his email to parents. “Please encourage your students to bring their Chromebook home every day so they are prepared to receive digital instruction.”

“I am kind of glad that the school is closed, but I’m worried about how online learning will work,” says junior Elizabeth Atkinson.

Students who are experiencing flu symptoms are encouraged to seek medical attention and are advised to stay home. Students should not come to school if they feel sick and should have a parent call them in. Sick days will be excused absences and will not count against them

“This is for the safety and wellbeing of the students and everyone around them,” says a message sent out to students eligible for Distinguished Warrior from West Assistant Principal Greg Eiserman. “Students should not feel conflicted about missing school and their eventual status concerning the Distinguished Warrior honor.”

MCHS administrators acknowledge that good attendance is vital for students’ academic growth. However, they say, the health risks implemented recently in the community poses a risk. Attendance is not more important than the health of students and staff.

”In light of these factors and increased student absence over the past few weeks,” Eiserman adds. “MCHS will not be counting any excused student absence that occurred during the second semester this year towards the analysis of whether the student meets the DW criteria.”

Freshman Haley Green agrees with the school’s decision to close for the well-being of students and staff. “We get to keep ourselves healthy and work at our own pace,” she said. “I feel like the school taking action now is best for all of us.”

Prom and graduation, at the time, have not been canceled or postponed. More information will be shared about this story as it develops.