District 59 could stay remote through October
Elk Grove Township Elementary District 59 students will begin the school year remotely Monday, Aug. 17, and it likely will stay that way through the end of October, officials said.
The district's back-to-school plan, presented to parents last week, suggested a four-week period of remote learning to start the school year. But school board members reached consensus this week to maintain virtual learning until at least Oct. 30 -- that correlates with the end of the first quarter at junior high schools -- to provide greater certainty and planning time for families.
"It wouldn't surprise me if it was the entire first semester, based on the (COVID-19) positivity rates increasing," Superintendent Art Fessler said during a board meeting Monday night.
But Fessler also said district officials will reevaluate a return to some type of in-person learning every three to four weeks. And even when most kids are learning from home, schools might be able to welcome back small groups of students, such as those with special needs, those new to the district, and kindergartners.
"We want our kids back in school as quickly as possible, but only when it's safe," he said.
Parents have until Wednesday to choose whether they want their children to attend school in-person or participate in a remote learning academy, once school doors do reopen. More than half of district families have already responded to the online survey, but staff will be contacting those who haven't, officials said.
District leaders are aiming for maximum class sizes of 15 to maintain social distancing, with the possibility of students attending five days a week. What's more likely, though, is a hybrid model, where students would come to school two days a week and take remote classes the other three days, Fessler said.
"Depending on how many people register, that determines which model we will run," he said.
A final school board vote on the reopening plan is scheduled for next Monday -- the same day teachers are expected to return for professional training. The first full-day for grades 1-8 is Aug. 17, kindergarten on Aug. 18, and early learning on Aug. 20.