More Lake County school districts to keep buildings closed when classes resume
Several Lake County school districts are changing course and will keep buildings closed to students when the 2020-21 term starts next month because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Administrators with Mundelein High School District 120, Mundelein-based Fremont School District 79 and Gurnee-based Woodland School District 50 plan to educate students remotely using laptop or tablet computers when classes begin next month.
They join the state's second largest school district, Elgin Area Unit District 46, which announced earlier this week it has backed away from a planned hybrid model in favor of online only learning for at least the first part of the school year.
Fremont officials had been so confident they were going to hold a combination of remote and in-school learning for students at its four schools that they posted the plan for it on the District 79 website and sent it to parents Monday. But after hearing from concerned employees and parents, the administrators changed their minds mid-week.
"Out of an abundance of caution, (the district) has made the difficult decision to alter its plans for the 2020-2021 school year," Fremont spokesman Nick Brilowski said. "(Remote) learning is the safest option for everyone."
The Woodland school board voiced support for a remote-learning proposal there Thursday night and will finalize it with a vote on July 30, a spokeswoman said.
Woodland officials were set to offer a combination of remote learning and on-campus classes at its four buildings, too. But in making those preparations, they were spending more time planning for people getting sick than planning for the educational experience, Superintendent Lori Casey said Friday in an email to parents.
"We could not check the safety boxes that needed to be checked, and that realization stopped us in our tracks," Casey wrote.
Woodland, Fremont and Mundelein High students will have live, synchronous lessons with teachers and their classmates when classes begin. That wasn't the case when emergency remote learning plans were implemented this past spring after schools were ordered closed because of the health crisis. Instead, students generally worked independently after receiving direction from teachers.
Additionally, Woodland, Fremont and Mundelein High students will follow daily class schedules, and attendance and grading practices will be more strenuous, officials said.
"(This) plan will give us the best chance to create an instructional environment that will offer students a consistent, high quality learning experience and the best social experience under the current circumstances," Mundelein High Principal Anthony Kroll said in a news release.
Start dates vary from school to school.
More information about Woodlands' plan can be found at dist50.net. More information about Fremont's plan can be found at fsd79.org. More information about Mundelein High's plan can be found at d120.org.
Other districts planning for remote learning include Gurnee-based Warren Township High School District 121, Libertyville-Vernon Hills Area High School District 128, Lincolnshire-based Stevenson High School District 125 and Round Lake Area Unit District 116.
Grayslake High School District 127 officials are planning for remote learning too, but the school board hasn't yet voted on the proposal. That could happen July 30.
Predictions for how long at-home education will last vary from district to district. Some officials hope they'll be back to on-campus classes as soon as November, while others expect it'll be at least January before students return.