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COVID change: Lunch periods cut at Bloomington junior, high schools

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More than half of the European population are expected to be infected with the Omicron coronavirus variant within the next six to eight weeks, the World Health Organization's top Europe official said on Tuesday.

BLOOMINGTON — Bloomington District 87 is shortening the school day at Bloomington junior and high schools to avoid lunch periods where the potential spread of CVOID is harder to mitigate.

Elementary schedules are not changing. Sarah E. Raymond School of Early Education will be on remote learning until Jan. 21. 

BJHS students will be in class from 8 a.m. to 12:58 p.m. and BHS classes will go from 7:30 a.m. to 12:13 p.m., Superintendent Barry Reilly said in an announcement on Tuesday. 

Barry Reilly, headshot

Reilly

The adjusted schedules also run through Jan. 21 with the district anticipating the normal full day schedule resuming on Jan. 24. 

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Sarah E. Raymond closed Tuesday due to the number of COVID cases and close contacts at the preschool.

Classes in the entire district were cancelled last Friday due to high numbers of staff and student absences, largely due to COVID and close contacts needing to quarantine. 

The latest change prevents the large gatherings of students during lunch periods, Reilly told The Pantagraph.

"Our lunch periods within our schedule have a lot of kids," he said.

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The students will be provided with grab and go meals at dismissal, the announcement said, and buses will still be provided. Students will attend all of their classes, just on a shortened schedule. 

Both BJHS and BHS have three lunch periods, Reilly said. At BJHS, that means all of the students in a grade level have lunch at the same time, and are eating in the same area. BHS will often have as many as 500 students in the cafeteria, Reilly said. 

The hope is to make the changes for a couple weeks to allow the community to get through the peak of the latest surge in COVID cases.

"We're doing all we can to avoid going remote," Reilly said.

Update as of Jan. 12, 2022: 

McLean County Unit 5 and the Bloomington Area Career Center are staying on their existing schedules.

Unit 5 sent a statement to The Pantagraph Tuesday evening saying it would be sticking to its existing schedule. However, the district may move specific classrooms to remote if there is an outbreak or a substitute cannot be found. 

BACC announced on Facebook on Wednesday morning it would also remain on its existing schedule, which is split into three sections which run from 7:30 a.m. to 2:15 p.m. BACC is located in the same building as Bloomington High School. It serves more than a dozen school districts in and around McLean County.

Contact Connor Wood at (309)820-3240. Follow Connor on Twitter: @connorkwood

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