Glenview, Northbrook parents share concerns about schools reopening this fall

  • Parents Rae and Kerrick Goodman-Lucker, of Northbrook, plan on keeping their two sons, Ezra, 6, and Toley, 3, from attending first grade and preschool in person this fall in Northbrook Elementary District 28. "Almost certainly, not physically starting in the fall, unless there is some miracle," said Rae Goodman, who teaches high school math at a private Lake Forest school.

    Parents Rae and Kerrick Goodman-Lucker, of Northbrook, plan on keeping their two sons, Ezra, 6, and Toley, 3, from attending first grade and preschool in person this fall in Northbrook Elementary District 28. "Almost certainly, not physically starting in the fall, unless there is some miracle," said Rae Goodman, who teaches high school math at a private Lake Forest school. Courtesy of Rae Goodman

  • Erin Gosser, of Northbrook, is hopeful in-person classes will resume at Northbrook/Glenview District 30 where her sons, Logan, 9, and Colin, 5½, will be starting third grade and kindergarten, respectively. "I'm planning on sending them, if that is available and they are healthy obviously," said Gosser, a former Chicago Public Schools teacher and now stay-at-home mom who will be home with her 2-and-a-half year-old son, Finn.

    Erin Gosser, of Northbrook, is hopeful in-person classes will resume at Northbrook/Glenview District 30 where her sons, Logan, 9, and Colin, 5½, will be starting third grade and kindergarten, respectively. "I'm planning on sending them, if that is available and they are healthy obviously," said Gosser, a former Chicago Public Schools teacher and now stay-at-home mom who will be home with her 2-and-a-half year-old son, Finn. Courtesy of Erin Gosser

  • Glenview parent Marie Wartelle said she will be keeping her 6-year-old daughter, Layla, right, who was born prematurely, from attending first grade in Glenview District 34. The district hasn't yet finalized plans for fall but is considering a hybrid approach. Wartelle said she will be helping her daughter with online learning while caring for her 2-year-old son, Logan.

    Glenview parent Marie Wartelle said she will be keeping her 6-year-old daughter, Layla, right, who was born prematurely, from attending first grade in Glenview District 34. The district hasn't yet finalized plans for fall but is considering a hybrid approach. Wartelle said she will be helping her daughter with online learning while caring for her 2-year-old son, Logan. Courtesy of Marie Wartelle

  • Anam Hargey of Glenview said her 5-year-old twin boys, Noah and Eesa, are supposed to begin kindergarten this fall at East Maine District 63, which hasn't released its reopening plan but is considering a hybrid instructional model with two days a week in the classroom and the rest conducted online. Hargey is concerned about kindergartners keeping their masks on and refraining from touching one another for the entire school day.

    Anam Hargey of Glenview said her 5-year-old twin boys, Noah and Eesa, are supposed to begin kindergarten this fall at East Maine District 63, which hasn't released its reopening plan but is considering a hybrid instructional model with two days a week in the classroom and the rest conducted online. Hargey is concerned about kindergartners keeping their masks on and refraining from touching one another for the entire school day. Courtesy of Anam Hargey

  • Anam Hargey of Glenview said her 5-year-old twin boys, Noah and Eesa, are supposed to begin kindergarten this fall at East Maine District 63, which hasn't released its reopening plan but is considering a hybrid instructional model with two days a week in the classroom and the rest conducted online. Hargey is concerned about kindergartners keeping their masks on and refraining from touching one another for the entire school day.

    Anam Hargey of Glenview said her 5-year-old twin boys, Noah and Eesa, are supposed to begin kindergarten this fall at East Maine District 63, which hasn't released its reopening plan but is considering a hybrid instructional model with two days a week in the classroom and the rest conducted online. Hargey is concerned about kindergartners keeping their masks on and refraining from touching one another for the entire school day. Courtesy of Anam Hargey

 
 
Updated 7/21/2020 10:58 AM

After months of lockdowns, masks, social distancing and endless talk of COVID-19 and positivity rates, the time suburban parents have dreaded is nearly here -- the start of the school year.

For many, the thought of sending their children to school during an ongoing pandemic could be causing sleepless nights as they watch and wait while their school district grapples with the details of how best to reopen -- in-person classes, remote learning or a combination of both based on guidelines from state education and health authorities.

 

And many suburban districts are leaving it up to those same parents to choose how their children will learn.

Northbrook parent and teacher Rae Goodman said she plans on keeping her two sons, Ezra, 6, and Toley, 3, from attending first grade and preschool in-person this fall in Northbrook Elementary District 28.

"Almost certainly, not physically starting in the fall, unless there is some miracle," said Goodman, who teaches high school math and science one-on-one at the private Fusion Academy in Lake Forest. "The pandemic is ongoing and getting worse, even in Illinois. There's so little that is known about this disease, what the long-term implications are and the mortality rates in children."

Goodman worries about her children being infected at school and bringing it home to the family, which includes her parents who take care of them at times.

On the other hand, parent Erin Gosser, of Northbrook, is hopeful in-person classes will resume at Northbrook/Glenview District 30 where her sons, Logan, 9, and Colin, 5, will be starting third grade and kindergarten, respectively.

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"I'm planning on sending them, if that is available and they are healthy, obviously," said Gosser, a former Chicago Public Schools teacher.

District 30's plans include having students in pre-kindergarten through third grade in school five days a week wearing masks and with social distancing, attendance on alternating days for fourth- through eighth-graders, and a remote option for those who wish to remain at home. The school board approved updated e-learning plans Monday, Superintendent Brian Wegley said.

"I'm almost hoping that, in some ways, we will utilize our outdoor spaces more," Gosser said. "Kids don't have to wear masks when they are outside."

However, Gosser is concerned making sure students are wearing masks at all times can be challenging for teachers.

"I just really wonder how they are going to be able to enforce all the mask-wearing and also do other parts of their job," she said. "I almost feel like it is such a big ask."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Illinois State Board of Education guidelines allow schools to reopen three ways -- entirely in person, fully remote or through a blended learning model.

Many school districts are working on plans using these parameters. Several districts have surveyed parents and employees about the options.

Some districts, including Elgin Area School District U-46, Barrington Area Unit District 220, Palatine-Schaumburg High School District 211, Palatine Township Elementary District 15, Round Lake Area Unit District 116 and Schaumburg Township Elementary District 54, are considering using that hybrid approach, offering families a choice between virtual learning and in-person classroom instruction with health and safety modifications such as increased sanitizing and required masks, face shields and social distancing.

Northbrook District 28 hasn't yet decided which scenario to pursue.

"I'm considering both actual home schooling and district-based remote learning," said Goodman, who doesn't know if her teaching work will resume this fall. "I think teachers absolutely should have the option to be remote. To be back in the building for the sake of being back in the building, I don't think that's what people want -- teachers or anybody else. I would be much more comfortable staying remote as long as it's necessary."

One factor parents may have to consider is locking into a choice for a semester, trimester or the entire school year.

Glenview parent Marie Wartelle said she will be keeping her 6-year-old daughter Layla from attending first grade in Glenview District 34, which hasn't yet finalized plans for fall but is considering a hybrid approach.

"I will be taking the online option, 100%," Wartelle said. "I can't risk my daughter getting it. I went through a lot of struggles with her being born premature. I had to fight to keep her alive. I don't think her body would handle it. I will not allow myself to have to struggle again, especially when there is an option to avoid it."

Wartelle herself is immunocompromised and can't risk being exposed to COVID-19. She has a rare brain disease -- Moyamoya -- that causes blood vessels to constrict resulting in strokes. Her husband works at a nursing home.

"We've been quarantined fairly strict to the point that my kids don't go out and play," said Wartelle, who operates a home-based online reselling business. "I feel like I am one of the lucky ones because I have already switched my life to be more at home."

Anam Hargey, of Glenview, said her 5-year-old twin boys, Noah and Eesa, are supposed to begin kindergarten this fall at East Maine District 63, which hasn't released its reopening plan but also is considering a hybrid instructional model with two days a week in the classroom and the rest conducted online.

Her sons have a speech delay and have been receiving speech therapy for the past two years in a preschool setting. Hargey is concerned about kindergartners keeping their masks on and refraining from touching one another for the entire school day.

"It would be difficult to enforce," Hargey said. "Kindergarten is more like play. My kids have so much energy. Going to school full-day is such a transition in itself. I feel like that would be just starting it off on a bad note. Since kindergarten is optional, I'm more inclined to keep my children at home but also fear that they will fall behind in school."

A stay-at-home mom, Hargey said helping her children with e-learning the last few months of preschool already was a challenge.

"It was so difficult to get them to sit down and focus at home," Hargey said. "My kids are really thriving in schools. I'm hopeful that it won't be e-learning the whole year."

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