District 300 switching to online learning for school start
Algonquin-based Community Unit District 300 leaders have reversed an earlier plan to reopen schools for in-person instruction and instead will start the school year Aug. 17 with fully remote learning due a rise in COVID-19 cases in Kane County.
"I think this is the safest way for us to approach this right now," said Fred Heid, superintendent of the state's sixth-largest school district, which educates more than 21,000 students in 26 schools.
Originally, officials had hoped to bring back elementary and middle school students to a normal five-day schedule with some modifications while high schools followed a hybrid model.
Evolving guidance from state education and health officials and an increase in COVID-19 cases across the region forced the district to reevaluate in-person instruction.
For now, the district plans to be in remote learning mode for students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade through the first quarter, which ends Oct. 9.
The district has provided Chromebooks for all students and will be switching out nearly 18,000 devices in the coming weeks. Families will be notified when to pick up the new Chromebooks as well as other instructional materials, such as art supplies, math manipulatives, workbooks, and a dry erase board to take home.
The district will pay to cover the cost of Comcast mobile hotspots for families in need of internet access. It also retrofitted a school bus to serve as a wireless antenna that can be driven into low-income neighborhoods.
During remote learning, the district will continue to provide food service for low-income families in packages covering three to five days of breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks.
Teachers will work from their classrooms as much as possible even with remote instruction.
Students with special needs will learn remotely during the first two weeks but also will have scheduled appointments for occupational and speech therapy and other in-person support.
The district is coordinating with local providers, the Boys & Girls Club, the YMCA, and local park districts so families that need help can get free child care.
Virtual town-hall meetings to answer questions about school start were scheduled from 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday for elementary school parents, Thursday for middle school parents, Friday for high school parents, and Monday, Aug. 3, for preschool and kindergarten parents.
For more information, visit www.d300.org/BackToSchool.