COVID Outbreak Among High Schoolers In Highland Park

More than 100 students in one north suburban high school district are in quarantine right now. Administrators there now reporting close to two dozen positive cases. CBS 2's Steven Graves reports from Highland Park where the district considers loosening restrictions.

Video Transcript

- More than 100 students in one North suburban high school district are in quarantine right now. Administrators there, reporting close to two dozen positive cases of COVID-19. CBS 2's Steven Graves is live in Highland Park, and Steven, this news comes as the district considers loosening restrictions.

STEVEN GRAVES: Erica, that's right. Unlike Chicago, this district is allowing high schoolers back in the classroom. About 50% of them under this hybrid model. It is coming and adding more students, like you said, under new state guidelines as administration says, these COVID cases were not contracted in the classroom.

Educating high schoolers in the age of COVID presents its own challenges.

- We can control the environment in the school, but we can't control what happens outside of school.

- Township High School District 113 learned that lesson over the past weeks of hybrid learning. Four students at Deerfield High tested positive for COVID-19, 18 at Highland Park High. 117 students, who might have come in contact with them, are quarantining. Lake County health officials believe all cases were contracted outside of the classroom.

KAREN WARNER: But we have many layers of mitigations, and what people need to do is follow those same kinds of mitigations outside of school.

- But Karen Warner, Director of Communications, sees the alert to cases as a positive side effect of their mandatory, biweekly, saliva testing.

- It's working, so we're proud of that and looking forward to having more students on campus.

- More students in classrooms now that the state has cut social distancing requirements from six feet to three. It comes as positive cases are still popping up in other high school districts in our area.

DANIEL JOHNSON: I believe that, if students were allowed back in class, then our numbers could be lower.

- That's the word from pediatric infectious disease Dr. Daniel Johnson, who says, studies show taking the home learning out of the equation might be better.

- So bringing them together into a school setting, where the rules are followed and enforced, is safer than many home settings, where there's no adult supervision during the day. Because parents have to work.

- And it is important to note that it's unclear where these students contracted the virus. The health department hasn't said yet, but we classroom capacity is a debated topic. So here in this district, they're going to have a meeting with the school board next week to, again, discuss if that classroom capacity will actually increase. Live in Highland Park, Steven Graves, CBS 2 News.