Barrington District 220 reverses course, switches to online classes only

  • After initially announcing plans to welcome students back to campus when school opens next month, Barrington Area Unit District 220 officials reversed course Wednesday and announced they would offer only remote learning when classes resume.

      After initially announcing plans to welcome students back to campus when school opens next month, Barrington Area Unit District 220 officials reversed course Wednesday and announced they would offer only remote learning when classes resume. Bob Susnjara | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 7/29/2020 6:49 PM

Reversing course on its plan to let parents choose between in-person and online classes, Barrington Area Unit School District 220 announced Wednesday that it would offer only remote learning when school opens next month.

In a message to the school community announcing the change, Superintendent Brian Harris said officials concluded that the original plan to welcome some students back on campus is not attainable.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"This is an extremely difficult decision and while I know many families and staff will welcome the change, I realize many others will not," Harris wrote.

There is no timeline in place for when students might be able to return to campus, but exclusively remote learning won't be for a "short period of time," Harris said.

The school board has scheduled a special meeting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 4, to review the change and discuss remote learning guidelines, Harris wrote.

The meeting will take place in the cafeteria of Barrington Middle School-Station Campus. Due to public health guidelines, capacity will be limited to 50 people. Masks will be required for those who attend. The meeting also will be broadcast on the district's YouTube channel.

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Harris said two significant problems emerged as the school district planned to bring back students last month: the inability to maintain social distancing and meeting staffing needs.

"It became overwhelmingly impossible to maintain a 6-foot distance in our schools all the time," he said. "It's just not doable."

Harris said he would provide additional details about the district's challenges and plans going forward at next week's school board meeting.

District 220 was among the first school systems in the suburbs to announce a reopening plan this month. At the time, school leaders said they believed they could have students back on campus safely, while also offering an opt out for parents who were not comfortable sending their children back.

However, Harris warned then that the situation was "extremely fluid" and the district would be ready to pivot if circumstances warranted it.

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