As the COVID-19 pandemic shows no signs of ceasing, school district officials in Arlington Heights and Plainfield said this week that their schools will be offering strictly remote learning in the fall.
While officials at Arlington Heights School District 25 had unveiled a preliminary plan earlier this summer that would have given families the choice between in-person or online learning, in a Monday letter to parents Superintendent Lori Bein said officials had reversed course.
“There is no perfect solution for how to provide in-person instruction while also providing a 100% guarantee of safety for all students and staff,” Bein said. “The only thing that I know for certain is that plans will need to be flexible as there could be many changes throughout the school year.”
Bein acknowledged that 49% of those who participated in a recent district survey indicated they preferred a full, in-person model for the start of the 2020-21 school year, with 27% favoring a hybrid of in-class and remote learning and just 25% saying they preferred an entirely remote plan.
But Bein said officials “feel forced to start remotely as a precautionary measure,” with the goal of working “diligently towards a physical return to school in a hybrid model.”
“I know this causes great difficulty for many of our families and staff,” Bein said. “Together, we will provide a caring, impactful, and safe educational experience for our students.”
While remote instruction will be the delivery model for the district’s 5,600 students attending its seven elementary schools and two middle schools, Bein said officials plan to re-evaluate the plan monthly, “with the goal of transitioning to hybrid instruction.”
The remote learning plan will kick off Sept. 1, the first day of school, featuring a five-hour instructional day for students in first through eighth grades, with “a goal of 2 1/4 u00bd hours of each day being live interaction between teachers and students,” Bein said.
Early childhood and kindergarten students will have schedules similar to their typical instructional days of 2 1/4 u00bd hours, with about half of that time being live, online interaction between teachers and students, Bein said.
The remote instruction “will be robust and aligned to our grade level learning standards,” Bein said, and teachers will be responsible for taking attendance and providing feedback on assignments.
Students who have special education plans will receive teletherapy, and some students may be brought on-site for some direct instruction and support, Bein said.
At Plainfield School District 202, students will start the school year on Aug. 31 with remote learning, but could return to in-person learning later this fall if COVID-19 conditions allow, officials said in a statement on Monday.
Just days after hundreds of District 202 teachers gathered at the district’s headquarters, advocating for remote learning, the school board voted 4-2 Monday to approve a slightly-amended version of the administration’s “Return ’20” proposed plan to reopen schools this fall.
“Tonight the Plainfield School District 202 board members decided to do what’s best for the health and safety of our students and our staff,” Dawn Bullock, the president of the Association of Plainfield Teachers, said in a statement Monday evening.
“No one wants to get back to in-person learning more than our educators, but right now we have to do what’s safest for our students, our staff and our community,” Bullock said. “We look forward to collaborating with administration and the board so that we can get back to in-person learning as soon as it’s safe for us to do so.”
Back in Arlington Heights, officials said the District 25 school board plans to hold a special meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday at Ivy Hill Elementary School to answer questions and provide further details about the district’s remote learning plan.
Due to COVID-19 guidelines, officials said only around 35 community members will be allowed to join the meeting in person, but the proceedings will also be streamed online, where up to 500 people can view the meeting.
For more details, visit: www.sd25.org/BoardBuzz.
Arlington Heights and Plainfield aren’t the first to reverse course. Evanston Township High School announced earlier this month it will start school with all remote learning after days earlier unveiling a hybrid plan. Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire is another school that will have use virtual learning in the fall.
In Chicago, the teachers union is also pushing for an all-remote start of classes for fall, while Chicago Public Schools has announced a tentative plan for a mix of remote and in-class schooling.
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