Stevenson High bucks trend, will continue remote learning through fall
With the COVID-19 crisis showing no signs of ending, Stevenson High School students will be taught remotely when the new term begins next month, officials revealed Monday.
At-home learning will continue until it's safe to bring students, teachers and other staffers back to the Lincolnshire campus, spokesman Jim Conrey said. That likely won't happen until at least the start of second semester in early January, Conrey said.
The unappealing thought of mandatory, 14-day quarantines for students or employees who contract the coronavirus -- as well as for people who come in prolonged contact with them -- was a significant factor in the decision, Superintendent Eric Twadell said during Monday night's school board meeting, which was held remotely because of the pandemic.
Such actions would be greatly disruptive and could result in the quarantining of dozens of people for each confirmed case, Twadell said.
And infections surely would happen, Twadell said. In fact, the virus already spread among some students participating in a summer sports camp at Stevenson, he disclosed.
That outbreak wasn't as large as a recent rash of cases tied to camps at Lake Zurich High, Twadell said. He didn't elaborate.
Additionally, 70% of Stevenson teachers who completed a recent survey said they were uncomfortable returning to campus because of the virus, Twadell said. He questioned how the quality of education would be affected if teachers are afraid to be in school.
As recently as last week, Stevenson administrators had been preparing to let families choose whether their students should attend in-person classes a few days a week or have all at-home lessons. Protective plastic shields have been added to teachers' desks in preparation for classroom activity, and decals reminding people to stay at least six feet apart have been added to floors and carpets, too.
But they won't be needed, at least for now.
"We know how much parents (and staffers) want us to open school as normal," Twadell said. "But that's not going to happen any time soon."
Classes had been scheduled to start Aug 13. That launch now is delayed until Aug. 17.
Under the new plan, live instruction will occur five days a week in every class. Homework, testing and grading will mirror expectations of traditional classroom instruction.
Academic assistance and other services will be offered through video conferencing.
Small groups of students will be allowed on campus for special-education programs, sports, clubs and some services. Otherwise, the buildings will remain off limits.
By sticking with remote learning, Stevenson is bucking the trend developing at many other school across the suburbs. Administrators at Carmel Catholic High in Mundelein, Libertyville High, Vernon Hills High and Mundelein High are among those who have either decided to have a mix of in-person and remote schooling or are leaning toward such a plan.
Stevenson officials will host a webinar for the public about their plan at 7 p.m. Tuesday. It can be viewed at zoom.us/j/99026014518.