There is growing concern over sending students back to the classroom in Plainfield School District 202.
On Monday, school board members voted down a plan that would have started the school year off with remote learning during the pandemic.
It came as a surprise to the Association of Plainfield Teachers, who share concerns over the safety of students and their members.
“There’s no perfect plan but what we’re looking at is a remote start to allows us to get a handle on it,” Union President Dawn Bullock said. “We need to make sure that all of our PPE is in and ready to go.”
Bullock said there will be a special board meeting on Thursday to discuss other options and next steps. The meeting isn’t open to the public.
Bullock pointed out the emotional toll social distancing will take on young students as teachers will be restricted from contact with students, but she said she understood why parents want a sense of normalcy restored for their kids.
“Those little guys that they want in school so badly are the ones that want to run and give you a hug,” Bullock said. “And here’s my social emotional damage of me going, woah, stop!”
In a 3-3 vote this week, the school board failed to pass the remote learning measure.
Board member Michael Robey pointed out the challenges vulnerable students may face with remote instruction.
David Koch, also on the board, said parents deserve an option of remote learning in conjunction with in-person learning.
Robey and Koch joined board member Bob Smith in voting against remote learning.
Board President Kevin Kirberg, Vice President Rod Westfall and board member Heather Drake voted in favor of remote learning.
Incoming Plainfield Central High School freshman, Alekzander Simonic, said he fears other students won’t follow safety protocols, putting him at risk. He also pointed out the number of classrooms that travel in and out of every day. “It’s going to move around the school real quick,” Simonic said.
Simonic’s mother is also a teacher in Plainfield School District 202.
The teacher’s union scheduled a "gathering" Thursday morning to show what social distancing will look like and raise awareness about student and teacher safety.