coronavirus illinois

One of Illinois' Largest School Districts Plans to Start Instruction Online This Fall

If Illinois remains in Phase 4 of reopening, students could return to campus at some point in the fall

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School District U-46 officials released a reopening plan Monday night with aims to begin instruction later and online.

In a letter to students, families and staff, Superintendent Tony Sanders provided their recommended reopening plan based on the results of a recent survey from school families and staff.

Beginning Aug. 24, students will begin school online until Oct. 9. Small rounds of students will be "invited back to school on a limited basis through the quarter," according to the letter.

With the assumption that Illinois remains in Phase 4 of the state's reopening plan, District U-46 will begin a hybrid model of learning on Oct. 12 for elementary and middle school students. Majority of high school students will remain in distance learning until the second quarter.

Students who are considered English Language Learners; those with special needs and individualized education plans; and those needing hands-on science lab and career technical education courses are exceptions to this policy.

The school district will also introduce a new Distance Learning Academy that elementary and middle school students and families can choose to attend for the first semester.

"This plan allows us some flexibility and gives us time to bring smaller groups of students back to school, even in the first quarter, for critical in-person learning and so that they can be accustomed to new safety provisions such as wearing a mask during the school day, washing hands frequently and maintaining social distance," the letter read.

As schools enter the hybrid model of learning, the district said there will be new protocols for riding school buses, using restrooms, utilizing meal services, interacting in the hallways and participating in after-school activities.

The U-46 school district is ranked as the second largest in Illinois, serving nearly 39,000 students in 40 elementary schools, eight middle schools and five high schools, according to the district's website.

The district serves the communities of Bartlett, Elgin, Hanover Park, South Elgin, Streamwood and Wayne, along with portions of Carol Stream, Hoffman Estates, St. Charles, Schaumburg and West Chicago.

Families and staff responded rather evenly to the potential reopening survey with 38.4% of families and 36% of staff wanting a hybrid learning style. Another 29.4% of families and 29.3% of staff voted to keep learning entirely online; while 32.1% of families and 23.1% of staff preferred to return to entirely in-person instruction.

The remaining 11.6% of staff said they do not provide any direct instructional services to students.

In terms of support needed, 31.6% of staff said they would need a U-46 issued laptop to continue work at home, 17.8% said they would require high-speed internet and 29.9% said they needed some form of professional development.

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