District 211, feeder districts 15 and 54 to begin school year remotely
Following a growing trend, Palatine-Schaumburg High School District 211 and its feeder districts, Schaumburg Township Elementary District 54 and Palatine Township Elementary District 15, will begin the school year remotely due to increasing COVID-19 cases in the region, officials said Monday.
The state's largest high school district will continue to hold virtual classes throughout the school year until the local health trend indicates a consistent decrease in COVID-19 cases, according to a letter to parents and students from Superintendent Lisa Small.
Once case rates start decreasing, the district will begin to allow small, controlled numbers of students to enter school buildings in academic support settings, Small added.
But there will be no requirement for students to attend in-person, she said.
"Our goal is to provide the best educational opportunities in a safe environment," Small wrote. "This includes implementing the guidelines put in place by the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Illinois State Board of Education."
The all-remote plan is a shift from earlier hybrid plans announced by the district July 22 that called for 50% of students to attend classes in person and the other half learning virtually, with the two groups trading places on alternating weeks.
But Small said at the time that changing health conditions could alter that approach before the first day of school Thursday, Aug. 13.
District 211's schools will maintain four one-hour periods each day, during which students are expected to be connected and attendance will be taken. For example, the A-Day rotating schedule begins Aug. 13 with four classes scheduled, and the B-Day schedule follows on Aug. 14 with four different classes.
Students will be able to schedule remote academic support with teachers after the daily class rotation, officials said.
District 211 has nearly 12,000 students across five high schools and two alternative schools.
At District 54, the largest elementary district in the state, students will begin the first trimester virtually, Superintendent Andy DuRoss announced in a letter to families and staff. Last month, the district offered parents the option of in-person or virtual learning for the first trimester Aug. 17 to Nov. 6, until reversing course Monday.
"As the numbers continue to grow, we feel the only safe option is for all of our students to attend school virtually during the first trimester," DuRoss wrote. "We understand this presents a hardship for some families and we worked diligently to find a way to host in-person instruction. Ultimately, we have to put health and safety first."
Under a revised schedule released Monday, District 54 staff will return Aug. 17, students in grades 1-8 will attend remote classes beginning Aug. 24, and early childhood and kindergarten students Aug. 31.
A district committee will monitor the pandemic conditions and guidance from state officials with the potential of a return to in-person instruction at some point, officials said.
The remote learning plan will be discussed at a school board meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday. District 54 has more than 15,500 students across 28 schools.
District 15 will also begin the school year remotely, but unlike districts 211 and 54, its plan released Monday sets out a gradual re-entry to in-person instruction schedule for those families who elected to do so. Last month, parents were asked to select in-person instruction or placement in a virtual learning classroom for the first trimester or semester, depending on the grade level.
Under the modified reopening calendar, students would begin learning remotely Wednesday, Aug. 19, but rolling re-entry to in-person instruction would start the week of Sept. 8. Kindergarten students would return Sept. 8, special education students Sept. 14, grades 1-2 on Sept. 21, grades 3-4 on Sept. 28, and grades 5-6 on Oct. 5.
Junior high students will return in a hybrid capacity Oct. 13 at the end of the first quarter. Students who have enrolled in virtual learning classrooms will remain at home, officials said.
"While I know this news will elicit support from some and profound disappointment from others, this shift allows us to continue preparing as thoughtfully and carefully as possible for what we want to be a safe and gradual reopening of schools for our 8,000 in-person learners," Superintendent Laurie Heinz wrote in a letter to parents. "We believe that a remote start will also allow us to implement new safety protocols, refine staffing needs and continue monitoring health data before welcoming students who elected in-person learning back to the classroom."