The Return to School plan shared with District 90 families on July 8 may change, as feedback from teachers and parents presented at the July 20 board of education meeting weighed heavily against in-person learning.
As a result of the feedback, board members made the decision to take some additional time to consider the reopening plan and will hold a special meeting prior to the next regularly scheduled August 17 school board meeting.
Notably, several teachers submitted letters which were read at the July 20 school board meeting and concerns about safety were prominent. Tara Zinger, a seventh and eighth grade teacher, said, “I assert that the stakes are too high and knowledge [about COVID-19] too limited to reopen” in the fall.
First grade teacher Jackie Mitchell said, “Any option other than remote learning is a danger to students and staff.”
Eileen Joy, a teacher at Roosevelt since 2003, said she’s concerned about the safety and wellbeing of students and of teachers, who will have contact with 150 students each week.
Other concerns were raised around the issue that socialization and collaboration are important parts of education, and if distance requirements are in place, that essential element would be missing from in-person instruction.
Currently, the basics of the previously announced plan are as follows:
- Elementary students at Lincoln and Willard would return to school for full in-person instruction with a classroom cohort for the entire day. Desks would be spaced at six feet distance from each other, and students would eat lunch at their desks.
- Middle school students at Roosevelt would return to a blended learning format, with the students divided into two groups. The groups would alternate in-school attendance with remote learning. The object is to reduce school and classroom density.
- Student learning gaps from the March 16 transition to distance learning will be identified through formal and informal student assessment, and curriculum will be modified as needed.
The full presentation of the current plan is available online at district90.org/updates.
A survey to parents and caregivers prior to the development of the plan included 683 responses. In the survey, 39 percent of respondents reported being “very comfortable” with a return to in-person education in the district; 30 percent said they were “somewhat comfortable” with in-person learning; five percent were neutral on the subject, 16 percent “uncomfortable” and 8 percent “very uncomfortable.”