St. Charles District 303 families can opt for online learning in new guidance for 2020-21

  • St. Charles Unit District 303 is preparing three instructional models for the 2020-21 school year to provide flexibility amid the coronavirus pandemic.

    St. Charles Unit District 303 is preparing three instructional models for the 2020-21 school year to provide flexibility amid the coronavirus pandemic. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

Updated 7/10/2020 6:29 PM

St. Charles Unit District 303 is developing three possible instructional models for the 2020-21 school year, offering options for families and flexibility for school leaders during the coronavirus pandemic.

When classes resume in August, plans will be in place for a modified in-person structure, a full remote learning format and a blended model, according to a letter published Friday by Superintendent Jason Pearson and school board President Nick Manheim.


Families who are uncomfortable sending their students to school in person will be able to choose an online-only option on a semester basis.

Working with members of a special task force, district leaders have spent the summer revising a remote learning plan created when the stay-at-home order took effect last spring, officials said.

Starting this fall, certain staff members will be dedicated to teaching remote learners using a device provided by the district, the letter says. Lessons will be centered around core academic areas, and attendance, assignments, grading and feedback will be incorporated into the instructional model.

With the in-person format, students will experience a modified classroom schedule where social distancing protocols will be enforced, administrators said. Face masks must be worn by students and staff members inside buildings at all times, and high-touch areas will be cleaned regularly.

Students and employees also will be required to use an online tool each day before school to certify they are free from COVID-19 symptoms.

Fifty people will be allowed inside cafeterias, gymnasiums and libraries at a time, per state guidelines, officials said. Physical education classes, lunch and recess will be held outside as often as weather permits.

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The district also is preparing for a blended model, which would allow students to alternate between attending school in smaller groups and participating in remote learning. This may be required at times due to social distancing guidelines or reduced capacity in classrooms, officials said.

Buses will continue transporting students with a 50-person cap, among other restrictions such as requiring face masks and sanitizing between routes. Administrators said bus routes will be kept as small as possible.

A more detailed explanation of the possible school day structure, broken down by grade levels, will be presented during a virtual school board meeting Monday, district spokeswoman Carol Smith said.

Information will be released Tuesday on how families can choose an instructional model for students.

Administrators say their ultimate goal is to move into a less restrictive, traditional in-person learning schedule, but that won't be possible until the state reaches Phase 5 of the Restore Illinois plan.


"As the rate of infection and response to the COVID-19 health crisis changes, we may be required to move between remote instruction, a hybrid/blended model, or full in-person learning with limited notice," officials said in the letter. "To that end, our plan is being designed to allow for flexible movement between these structures as needed."

About 5,325 people representing 76% of all District 303 families completed a survey gauging their comfort levels in various back-to-school scenarios, according to data posted on the district's website.

Of the responses from all grade levels, including the preschool and transition programs, about 58% indicated they would return to full-time, in-person learning if a normal schedule was offered. About 9% said they would not attend, while the remainder fell somewhere in between.

About 48% of families said their students would attend school in person if the district offered blended learning, where groups of students rotate each day between remote and classroom settings. Those who would not attend made up about 13% of the responses, results show.

The survey also asked parents to rate the importance of various safety protocols, including the use of masks; to indicate their level of concern for students' needs and well-being; and to consider how the COVID-19 crisis might change their actions pertaining to transportation and food service.

Monday's school board meeting begins at 7 p.m. and will be streamed live on the district's YouTube channel. Members of the public also can watch the meeting at the administration center, 201 S. Seventh St. School board members will be participating via Zoom.

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