District 15 to release its plan for new school year Friday
Palatine Township Elementary District 15 on Friday will provide parents and staff with plans on how instruction will be provided when the new school year begins next month, including whether families can choose between in-person and virtual learning.
The following Friday, July 17, would be the potential deadline for parents to submit their school and bus service preferences.
In between, the district will host a Facebook Live webinar for parents on Monday to provide more information and answer questions. Access information for the webinar will be released Friday.
Board members discussed three options for the next school year when they met Tuesday as a committee of the whole. Two of those options could coexist, District 15 spokeswoman Morgan Delack said.
The first would have all students return to the classroom as normal. The second would offer parents and guardians a chance to opt out of in-person learning and choose virtual instruction instead.
The third option, which had not been fully charted out by Tuesday's meeting, would be a hybrid in which students would be in the classroom some days and receive virtual instruction on others. This option would not allow personal choice, and administrators acknowledged Tuesday it would create day care challenges for some families, Delack said.
Whether parents' choice would apply for the entire school year or could be broken up by semester or trimester is likely to be part of Friday's information.
Delack noted that re-sectioning the student body of Illinois' second-largest elementary district is a major task, and it wouldn't be practical for students to move between classroom and virtual instruction at will.
More than an hour of Tuesday's meeting consisted of public feedback in the form of submitted questions and comments.
"We definitely heard from people on both spectrums," Delack said.
Many questions pertained to the requirement for students to wear face coverings. Other common questions involved protocols to enter buildings, including whether temperatures would be taken and screening questions asked each day.
Because of practical issues such as the bottlenecks in the buildings, the district is leaning toward a policy of permitting staff and students to self-certify their health before entry.
"It will be a partnership," Delack said. "We will need everyone's support to get through this school year."
A small percentage of teachers have been identified as having an elevated risk for COVID-19 and will not be providing in-person instruction. They likely would be among those chosen for the virtual-learning staff.
However, more than 90% of teachers have said they could return to the classroom if that's where they're assigned.
Superintendent Laurie Heinz on Tuesday thanked all those whose input has helped shape the district's evolving plans.
"It has been a lot, but it's very, very important and we're very committed to getting this right -- or as right as possible based on the current conditions," she said. "We feel proud of this collaborative effort. It took a lot of people with a lot thinking spending a lot of time laboring over every idea to put it together."