Barrington District 220 considers remote learning option for 2021-22 school year

  • Barrington Community Unit District 220 officials are discussing whether to continue offering a remote learning option to students beyond the current school year. According to a recent survey, about a quarter of district students would be interested in continuing virtual classes.

    Barrington Community Unit District 220 officials are discussing whether to continue offering a remote learning option to students beyond the current school year. According to a recent survey, about a quarter of district students would be interested in continuing virtual classes. Daily Herald File Photo, 2019

 
 
Updated 4/13/2021 6:44 PM

A quarter of Barrington Community Unit School District 220 students are interested in continuing remote learning beyond this school year, according to a recent survey.

Now the district is following up with a questionnaire asking families with students in kindergarten through 12th grade if they would commit to the program for the entire school year.

 

The survey was intended to "gauge interest" in a virtual program that could be offered during the 2021-22 school year, Superintendent Brian Harris said.

Virtual learning would be a choice-based program, such as the current Chinese immersion or dual language programs, said John Bruesch, assistant superintendent of teaching and learning. Administrators are asking for a yearlong commitment from families in order to plan staffing and sectioning for the potential program.

"Much of this is subject to change based on the actual responses we get from families, and the commitment," Bruesch said.

Without knowing the number of participating students and the schools they would otherwise attend in person, the district can't determine if additional teachers are needed or if the program could be run by reassigning existing teachers.

"It really depends on where they're coming from, what building, and we don't know that until people actually choose to opt in," Harris said. "Then we can really solidify the numbers."

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School board member Gavin Newman expressed concerns the program could lead to "rampant cheating."

"I've heard in a lot of (Advanced Placement) classes at the high school, (for) the kids that are there, it's just not a level playing field," he said.

Harris said the program would address those concerns with separate modes of instruction for remote and in-person students.

Kelly Hansen, the district's director of secondary education, said separate tests would be made for virtual learners, without multiple choice questions that have "Google-able" answers students could look up.

"We would revamp our assessments for a remote environment," she said.

Bruesch said the distance-learning program could be expanded in the future, but at this time the district is planning only for the next school year.

The district is set for full, in-person classes next year, Harris said.

"Our target will obviously be focused on in-person instruction, but we also know we still have many families and parents that are concerned until the pandemic solutions and the vaccinations start to play out for children," he said.

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