Lake Villa schools plan to start year remotely

Lake Villa Elementary District 41 will be going online for the fall semester, the board announced during a special meeting on Thursday.

The district's 2,500 students at four elementary schools and Peter J. Palombi Middle School will start remote learning Aug. 21, with school officials promising improvements over the system that was hastily organized in March after the COVID-19 outbreak reached Illinois.

Initially, the district was hoping to have a blended model of in-person learning on some days per week with other days taught remotely, but COVID-19 caseloads and recommendations by the Illinois State Board of Education made the school board opt for virtual instruction instead.

"I think it's important that we understand and recognize that in-person learning is the best way to do it, but it has to be done safely and the safety of our students and staff are our priority," Superintendent Lynette Zimmer said. "Due to the lack of a vaccine, we know we won't be returning to normal for the foreseeable future."

Changes will be made to ensure this method is a smoother process than it was when the pandemic began, Zimmer said. Remote learning will be done online with Chromebooks provided for the pre-K through eighth-grade students.

Classes will be taught using livestreaming, Google Meet and chat functions with whole group, small group and one-on-one work, and with virtual check-ins and feedback taking place. The minimum time for live instruction will be 2.5 hours per day for a full-time student.

Grading will return to normal practices, with grades determined by class participation and work completion.

Field trips, extracurriculars and music and band concerts all will be virtual, and there will be no athletics.

"We need to look at how things are going to be different and what it would look like in this way," Zimmer said. "I think we learned lessons and we certainly need improvements."

More information is at

• Trey Arline is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.

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