New weekly COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people in suburban Cook County. This is the main metric being used to determine which stage of school D214 is in.

Rick Lytle

District 214 released metrics to determine which stage of reopening the school district is in. The main metric is new weekly cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 people in suburban Cook County as reported by the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Since Aug. 3, the new cases per 100,000 has consistently been between 99 cases per 100,000 and 112 cases per 100,000. This places the district right in the middle of stage two, which is a mostly remote learning plan with a few specialized groups (homeless, special needs etc.) the only students in-person learning. To move back into a fully remote stage one the new cases per 100,000 would have to exceed 175, and to advance into a hybrid model stage three the cases would have to fall below 70 per 100,000. To advance into stage one, which is the fully flexible plan originally announced in July, cases would have to fall below 7 per 100,000, something that hasn’t been seen in suburban Cook County since the start of the pandemic.

“We needed to create a metric that people can follow, so students [and] parents can easily go to one site and look at it,” D214 Superintendent Dr. David R. Schuler said.

The district made the determination for what metrics to use based on public health guidance in addition to simplicity.

“The development of the D214 Metric Framework was grounded in the public health guidance from the Northern Illinois Public Health Consortium Return to School Metrics Workgroup, of which the Cook County Department of Public Health is a member. It was further supported by research from the Harvard Global Health Institute,” the return-to-school plan reads.

To account for an increase in testing leading two a higher case count, the metrics have the caveat that if the percent of COVID-19 tests in suburban Cook County that come back positive falls below 3%, the district could move into stage three regardless of new cases per 100,000. The test positivity rate is currently 6.1%, but has decreased the last two weeks.

Below is issue one of the Prospector. A related story to the metrics ran on page three.