Wilmette, News

Percentage rises for New Trier’s COVID screening program, but falls for in-person attendance

Both student and staff participation in New Trier High School’s COVID-19 screener program have reached their highest levels, officials said Monday, Feb. 8 at the board of education’s committee of the whole meeting.

As of Feb. 8, 97.6 percent of on-campus students are participating in the program, while 84.7 percent of staff members are taking part, per district data.

Officials recently mandated student participation in the program. Participation is not a requirement for staff.

A “very positive and constructive” meeting took place between district officials and the leaders of the district’s employee associations, board member Greg Robitaille said.

“They made a point to continue to work hard at this and I think we saw in the numbers,” he said  ” … We would love to be at 100 percent but it’s not going to get there, but it’s going in the right direction and I feel really good looking at those numbers and looking at the progress that’s been made.”

Dr. Marc Glucksman, who is also the board’s vice president, told the board that the analysis he and several medical professionals conducted shows the screener program will pick up the several newly found variants of the COVID-19 virus.

Charts showing student and staff participation in the saliva-based screening program.

Reports from the CDC indicate the variants are significantly more transmissible.

Glucksman added that he believes there are currently no township cases of the variants, but a variant case was reported in Highland Park.

In-person attendance dipping amid increasing quarantines and cases

Despite a recent shift to a two-track learning model that allows up to 50 percent capacity, student attendance is averaging around 40 percent at New Trier’s Northfield campus and has dipped below 30 percent in Winnetka.

In-person attendance numbers at Winnetka reach a low-level of 26 percent on Friday, Feb. 5, officials said.

Per Sally, the drop in attendance is related to increasing quarantines as a result of the previous weekend’s gatherings.

While student attendance trended downward, staff attendance has increased — with access to the COVID-19 vaccine playing a role, officials said.

“We do have a number of return to school dates from those that needed to be out until the vaccine was available,” Sally said. “The good news is that they’ve been actively looking on their own to find places. We’ll start to see some of those folks coming back relatively soon.”

martin carlino
Martin Carlino

Martin Carlino is a co-founder and the senior editor who assigns and edits The Record stories, while also bylining articles every week. Martin is an experienced and award-winning education reporter who was the editor of The Northbrook Tower.

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