coronavirus illinois

Suburban Districts Deal With Threats, Controversy in Debate Over How to Proceed With School Year

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School districts across the area are being forced to make decisions on whether or not their students will attend classes in-person this fall, and the debate is causing massive controversy in many communities.

One of the districts where things are getting heated is in District 99 in Downers Grove. That district is recommending remote learning after the first week of school, and they are scrambling to find enough substitute teachers to replace those educators who have already requested medical leave.

“Much like your concerns for your children, I am concerned too,” one teacher said. “Not just for myself, but for anyone who enters the building.”

District 99 Superintendent Hank Thiele says that district leaders have faced threats over their decisions during the pandemic.

“Board members and administrators have been threatened,” he said. “We’ve been told by people that they are hoping we die of COVID, and they’ve said that they hope our own children catch this horrible disease and die first.”

Other districts are also facing significant challenges as the school year approaches. Indian Prairie District 204 is recommending a switch to all-remote-learning to start the new school year, but parents want the board to find a way to allow children to attend school in person.

“This is a failure of creativity,” one mother said. “Look at the skies. Planes are still flying. Look at grocery stores. People are still shopping.”

Despite complaints, Naperville District 203 is also recommending a change to remote learning to start the fall semester.

“Social media posts about our district’s reopening plan alleged wrongdoing, neglect, and secret votes by the board, all of which are completely false,” School Board President Kristin Fitzgerald said.

District 54 in Schaumburg is also going with a remote learning plan, and on Monday it was announced that District 211, one of the largest districts in the state, will also begin the school year with remote learning in Palatine, Hoffman Estates and Schaumburg.

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