Dist. 15 giving parents more time to choose between in-person and online school
Palatine Township Elementary District 15 has revised its plan for reopening schools for the 2020-21 academic year, which includes giving parents additional time to choose between in-person and virtual learning.
Under the plan, school will begin Aug. 17 for students in grades 1-8 and Aug. 18 for early childhood and kindergarten.
Citing feedback received from parents and guardians, the district has tweaked the reopening plan first announced July 10.
One change is a deadline extension for parents and guardians to decide if their students will attend classes in school or online while the state remains in Phase 4 of reopening. What had been a deadline of 11:59 p.m. Friday now is noon Monday.
District 15 officials explained the need for a tight time frame during a Zoom webinar this week.
"Typically, staffing for a district our size, we're looking at a good six to seven months that we work on doing that," said Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources Lisa Nuss. "And we don't have six to seven months before school starts. We understand that these are hard decisions to make without all the information."
Another revision will allow parents and guardians to change their choice of in-person or online learning at the end of each grading period, rather than be locked in for the full year. That means after the first trimester for grades 1-6 and the first semester for early childhood, kindergarten and junior high school.
The district also may reconsider its decision to check students' temperature every day. While they still prefer it be done at home, officials acknowledge concerns about reliability and are reviewing the most efficient, confidential and safest way to screen children for COVID-19 symptoms.
Health Services Coordinator Karen Flor said it would take about five hours for one nurse to do temperature checks and ask screening questions of 600 students in a school and get them into the building at a social distance. The task could be reduced to an hour with five screeners, she said.
In-person instruction will resume with health and safety modifications, such as required face coverings for students, staff and visitors, as well as increased sanitizing of buildings. No more than 50 people will be allowed in a room or on a school bus at a time.
District 15 is the second-largest elementary system in Illinois, with roughly 12,000 students in 20 schools. The district includes all or parts of Palatine, Rolling Meadows, Hoffman Estates, Inverness, South Barrington, Arlington Heights and Schaumburg.