COVID-19 cases started outside of Hononegah classes

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Hononegah Main Entrance

On Sept. 3, Hononegah Community High School Principal Chad Dougherty's weekly parent announcement stated, "This week we had sixteen confirmed COVID cases.... There does not appear to be transmission occurring from in-person classroom learning. However, there is transmission occurring during extracurriculars and after school events."

The Sept. 3 announcement was the first time any COVID-19 cases were attributed to school activities related to Hononegah, which has 2,000 students. The other cases were traced to contacts at home or in the community. For privacy reasons, Dougherty could not share further details.

Dougherty continued:

We continue to proactively work to keep students and staff safe by following ISBE, WCHD, IDPH, and CDC guidelines. We encourage people to practice social distancing, wear a face covering when in public, frequently wash hands and hard surfaces, and stay home if they are ill.

However, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) incorrectly reported that the event came from classroom contact rather than an extracurricular event.

Hononegah Superintendent Michael Dugan announced the correct story on Sept. 7:

Winnebago County Health Department (WCHD) notified IDPH of the error. IDPH has indicated that this information was incorrectly uploaded into their system and has assured WCHD that the error will be corrected.

The district continues to work collaboratively with WCHD and our staff in the application of mitigations to limit the spread of COVID-19 within the classroom and at all extracurricular clubs, sports and events.

Until Sept. 10, when Doughtery reported only "seven confirmed COVID cases," COVID-19 cases were increasing each week among his students, though none have been traced to classroom contact. On Aug. 24, he announced, "This week we had seven positive COVID cases confirmed by the WCHD. As of Monday, all but four will be cleared to return." On Aug. 27, he told parents, "We had thirteen confirmed positive COVID cases. As of Monday, all but nine will be cleared to return."  

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