Hybrid learning “paused”

As the state’s COVID numbers rise, MCHS follows county’s recommendation to continue remote learning


Kyla Henige

A student wears a mask in the hallways at West Campus on October 20, only a couple days before the district announced they would be pausing plans to begin a hybrid schedule.

Emma Snyder, News Editor

Due to the influx of COVID-19 cases in McHenry County, MCHS will no longer be returning to its hybrid model on November 4. 

On October 22, the McHenry County Department of Health (MCDH) released a statement advising schools to return to or continue with virtual learning based on three of the four previously released metrics. 

“We will “pause” our scheduled hybrid reopening that was planned for November 4, and continue in our digital learning model,” said Ryan McTague, District 156 superintendent. “However, during this “adaptive pause,” we will continue the process of preparing for a hybrid return and closely monitor the MCHD school metrics to determine if we can move to a hybrid learning model if conditions on the ground change and the public health metrics allow.”

As suggested by MCDH, the school metrics for hybrid learning include an incident rate of 7-14 per 100,000 per day, a test positivity rate between 5-8%, and the weekly count of new cases increase should be stable or decreasing in order to transition from virtual to hybrid learning. 

According to MCDH, the incident rate has increased since October 8 in McHenry County to 25 cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 population. 

“The most troubling metric is a sharp increase in the county COVID-19 positivity rate,” said McTague. “[MCDH] also indicated that McHenry County may face additional public health mitigation requirements due to the rapidly increasing COVID-19 case numbers.”

The test positivity rate in McHenry County is currently at 8.4%, which exceeds the recommended threshold of 8% for hybrid learning. 

“The weekly count of new cases increase metric also shows an increase for all cases and has met the criteria for the previous learning model,” stated MCDH. “MCDH reported 207 cases for the week of September 27, followed by an increase to 313 cases during the week of October 4.”

Along with not returning to hybrid learning on November 4, the increase in COVID-19 cases has also prompted the end of athletic contact days for sports both in and out of season. Once IHSA provides guidance on the status of the winter sports seasons, MCHS will reevaluate proceeding safely with contact days for sports. 

Despite MCHS continuing with virtual learning, specific programs that allow students into the buildings will continue. This includes self-contained special education courses, hands-on or lab-based courses, and identified students who require additional academic support or intervention. IHSA fall sanctioned sports, transportation, and meal service will also be allowed to continue. 

Hybrid learning may be “paused” for the time being but MCHS is prepared to proceed with the transition when the metrics, provided by MCDH, indicate it is safe to do so. Teachers at West and East have been asked to be ready to transition to a hybrid schedule with a week’s notice.

Under a hybrid learning model, students will be split into two groups by last name, Orange and Black, and go to school for in-person learning along with two days of asynchronous learning and virtual learning via video calls on Fridays.