District dismisses parents' concerns
As a parent of students in District 214, one of the largest school districts in Illinois, I am incredulous at how the superintendent and the board of education are dismissing input on the damaging effects of closing schools.
Parents are reporting students experiencing academic failure, lack of motivation, depression, anxiety and more. Because the D214 board members do not personally have any children currently in high school, they aren't faced with these challenges daily, which are doing irreparable harm.
The D214 website promises a board of education that, among other things "cooperates and communicates as a partner with parents and the community in the education of students," "involves school and community members in decision-making processes" and "encourages continual improvement through risk-taking and innovation."
Sadly, for our students, the board has chosen instead to ignore parent input, forgo transparency with parents and abandon any risk-taking and innovation. D214 is relying on unattainable metrics to reopen schools fully, even when a COVID-19 vaccine is available. Based on this, our students will not return to school full-time this academic year or in 2021-2022.
While other schools throughout Illinois and the country have successfully re-opened to undertake their responsibility, D214 refuses to be flexible or collaborative with critical stakeholders. And day after day, our students are being deprived of critical educational and socialization opportunities.
While some parents prefer remote learning, a majority want their students back in the classroom. We have been asking the district to re-open schools five days per week to allow those students to return. This was promised in the district's original return-to-school plan and then abandoned one week before school was to begin this August.
I implore the D214 superintendent and board to fulfill your mission. Life always involves calculated risks and we cannot indefinitely keep schools closed.