As President Donald Trump’s administration pushes for schools to reopen this fall, millions of teachers and parents across the United States are wondering whether their kids will be in their classrooms in the fall, or whether they’ll have to go back to virtual learning amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Those concerns are also being felt in Illinois, where the state Board of Education has faced pushback for its limitations on class sizes, group sizes and in-person instruction.
“For those of us working parents who don’t have access to childcare, or don’t feel comfortable enrolling our children in childcare at this time, we cannot work part time and home school part time,” Katie Eskey, a Naperville parent, said.
Eskey is also concerned that a return to e-learning, which was mandated by the state amid the pandemic earlier this year, would mean more issues for her kids, as learning electronically wasn’t a popular decision in her household.
“As a parent, it’s ten-fold more difficult to get your children to cooperate and to learn for you than it is in the classroom,” she said.
Citing similar concerns, Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have both said that returning to school is of utmost importance for children, citing physical and mental well being.
“(Reopening schools is important) for the well-being of our kids, for their academic advancement and for working families, and to continue the momentum we see in this economy,” Pence said.
School districts are implementing different policies in an effort to keep kids safe. While some districts, including those in suburban Kankakee, are looking at potentially using a hybrid model that blends in-class and online learning, others, such as District 41 in Glen Ellyn, are working hard to ensure enough social distancing to help keep kids safe.
“We walked through numerous ways that are options to maintain six feet of distancing, which really drove our model,” one administrator said.
As of now, Glen Ellyn plans to have kids in school five days a week, but only to operate with half-day schedules, with the rest of learning being done at home.
Chicago Public Schools will announce return-to-class guidelines in the near future, according to officials.