Health Department Recommends Virtual Learning

LCHD 2017




For Immediate Release
Date: October 20, 2020
Media Email:
Media Phone: 847-377-2001
General Public:

View as a webpage | Translate

Health Department Recommends Virtual Learning

Lake County, Ill. — The Lake County Health Department is reporting 'substantial' community transmission of COVID-19. To protect students, staff, and their families and slow the spread of COVID-19 in the community, the Health Department is recommending that public and private K-12 schools in Lake County transition to virtual learning.

“We have been seeing ‘substantial’ community transmission of COVID-19 in Lake County for 7 consecutive days, with rates of new cases that we haven’t seen since the spring,” said Mark Pfister, Executive Director at the Lake County Health Department. “We continue to work closely with our school superintendents to equip them with data and tools to make informed decisions. Now the decision is up to school districts, to use their expertise and authority to make this difficult decision for the health and safety of their school communities and the greater Lake County community as a whole.”

On October 11, 2020, the 7 day rolling average daily incidence rate, or new case rate, in Lake County rose above 14 cases per 100,000 residents. Since then, the rate has risen sharply to over 20 cases per 100,000 residents. Over 14 new cases per day per 100,000 residents (which is the same as 100 new cases per week per 100,000 residents) is considered ‘substantial’ community transmission of

7 Day Rolling Average Incidence Rate COVID-19 Lake County October 20 2020

Image caption: As of October 17, 2020, the 7 day rolling average daily incidence rate in Lake County, Illinois was 22.7 per 100,000 residents. High resolution file

Under the Northern Illinois Return to School Metrics plan used in Lake County, school learning model recommendations are based on the 7 day rolling average daily incidence rate as follows:

  • Substantial community transmission = >14 cases per 100,000 residents = Virtual
    learning model
  • Moderate community transmission = ≥7 and ≤14 cases per 100,000 residents = Hybrid
    learning model
  • Minimal community transmission = <7 cases per 100,000 residents = In-person
    learning model

The Health Department’s recommendation will return to hybrid learning once the county returns to the ‘moderate’ level for 7 consecutive days. Under the plan, the Health Department is also monitoring COVID-19 testing turnaround time, which has been relatively stable since the summer.

“Lake County schools collaboratively work with the Illinois Department of Public Health, Lake County Health Department, and the Illinois State Board of Education to review, monitor, and discuss the guidelines and metrics before any decisions are made,” said Roycealee Wood, Regional Superintendent of Schools. “The safety of our students, staff, and communities are always first and foremost. Opening schools is a priority; however, if we want schools to reopen and remain open we must all do our part. It's relatively easy if you wear a mask, keep your distance, and wash your hands frequently. These are challenging and unprecedented times, but with collective behaviors we can slow spread and achieve our goals.”

“This is not a recommendation we take lightly,” said Pfister. “Schools are being asked to utilize virtual learning not because schools are the main driver of our new infections, but because the levels of community transmission warrant extra measures to keep our students, staff, and their families safe. Schools alone cannot bear this burden—we must all take personal responsibility to keep this virus from spreading in any way that we can.”

The Lake County Schools Decision Dashboard is updated daily Mondays through Fridays at, and includes charts for the 7 day rolling average daily incidence rate, COVID-19 testing turnaround time, and zip-code level incidence and testing positivity data.


Additional Information

All residents are urged to continue to follow the 3 Ws to slow the spread of COVID-19:

  • Wear a mask
  • Wash your hands
  • Watch your distance

The Lake County Health Department reported Lake County’s first COVID-19 case on March 11, 2020. As of October 20, 2020, 19,758 Lake County residents have tested positive for the disease, including 505 deaths. The Lake County recovery rate is 96.7 percent. For more details, please visit the Coronavirus Data Hub, which is updated daily Mondays through Fridays at

Visit the Health Department’s Coronavirus web page,, for updates, testing information, community guidance and resources, answers to frequently asked questions, and to sign up for the Health Department’s weekly COVID-19 newsletter. General questions can be sent via email to

For trusted information on the COVID-19 pandemic from reputable state and federal sources, visit the State of Illinois, Illinois Department of Public Health, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) websites.

# # #

LCHD logo 2017

Lake County Health Department
3010 Grand Avenue
Waukegan, Illinois 60085
(847) 377-8000