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Addison teachers rally for remote learning

Addison Elementary District 4 plans to continue offering hybrid learning at its schools, despite a push from teachers for remote learning.

A group of district teachers participated in a Wednesday evening car rally calling for an immediate switch to remote learning for students and staff. The rally in the parking lot of Indian Trail Junior High in Addison was held before the school board meeting.

"We need to do what's safest for our students and our community," said Allison Andrikokus, co-president of the Addison Teachers' Association. The union represents 316 teachers, speech pathologists, nurses, social workers and psychologists.

"The medical experts at the DuPage County Health Department recommended school districts move to all remote learning," Andrikokus said. "We should absolutely be following that advice."

But Superintendent John Langton on Wednesday said the district will continue its hybrid learning plan, which provides in-person instruction for prekindergarten through sixth grade. Seventh-graders signed up for in-person learning are scheduled to return Thursday. Eighth-graders signed for in-person learning are expected to return Nov. 5.

"We're not deviating from the plan," Langton said.

District 4 serves 3,658 students at seven elementary schools, an early learning center and a junior high.

Langton said the decision to offer hybrid learning is based on a combination of the public health data and "the experiences that we're having in our school facilities."

"So if we have a case where it (COVID-19) is being spread in our schools," Langton said, "we'll absolutely close down - whether it's a class, a school, the entire district - based on those experiences."

The county health department is recommending schools operate with 100% remote learning because of growing COVID-19 infection rates. Still, it's up to individual districts to decide whether to do so.

Langton said he's "closely monitoring" all the conditions in District 4.

"I will do everything I can, as long as it's safe, to make it an option for parents to send their kids to school," he said.

Langton said roughly 40% of the district's students are signed up for in-person hybrid learning. Those students are separated into two groups and attend school on a rotation.

"So most of our class sizes in any given session range from just a couple of kids to up to 10," he said. "And the 10 is rare."

With everyone socially distanced and wearing masks, Langton said the result is "a very safe environment for both kids and the adults."

Still, the Addison Teachers' Association said in a news release the seven-day average COVID-19 positivity rate in Addison is 15.73%.

"We are asking for a clear, transparent plan that uses metrics and data to drive decision making," Andrikokus said. "We would love to continue seeing our students in person, but it is just not safe right now."

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  Addison Elementary District 4 teachers held a socially distanced rally Wednesday evening in the parking lot of Indian Trail Junior High School in Addison to express their desire to go to remote learning. John Starks/jstarks@dailyherald.com
  Teachers in Addison Elementary District 4 are calling for an immediate switch to remote learning for students and staff. John Starks/jstarks@dailyherald.com
  Teachers held a socially distanced rally Wednesday evening in the parking lot of Indian Trail Junior High School in Addison to express their desire to go to remote learning. John Starks/jstarks@dailyherald.com