Parents from nine different school districts came together for a “Cross District Rally to Reopen” in downtown Naperville to advocate for kids being allowed to return to school on a five-day full time basis with lunch and activities.
The group of over 150 started off at the corner of Webster Street and Douglas Avenue at 11 a.m., and walked to the Free Speech Pavilion at the Riverwalk.
“We just want to get across that parents and kids are ready for kids to be back in school full-time, five days a week,” said Sara Forster who is a District 203 parent. “That it’s the responsibility of these western suburban districts to be leaders, get the kids back in school show how it can be done. We have the resources, we can do it.”
At The Rally
Parents from Naperville District 203, Indian Prairie District 204, Plainfield District 202, Geneva District 304, St. Charles District 303, Oswego District 308, Kaneland District 302, Hinsdale Township High School District 86, and Community High School District 99 were in attendance at the rally.
Featured speakers for the event include Illinois State Senator Darren Bailey (R-Louisville), who’s running for governor; radio host for AM 560 WIND Amy Jacobsen; District 202 School Board candidates Raj Pillai, Nick Giannasi, Rick Todd and Annie Klupshas; Naperville city councilman Kevin Coyne; District 203 School Board candidates Bill Eagan and Adam Russo; District 204 School Board candidates Shannon Adcock and Rajesh Narayan; Naperville city council candidate Paul Leong; District 308 board member Brent Lightfoot, and former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas.
Speakers mentioned student mental health issues and an increase in failing grades as some of the reasons for a need to a return to school full time, five days a week.
“We will never forget what our inept leaders took from our kids and community this past year,” said Adcock. “No matter how they try to reverse engineer and package it in this false narrative of safety they were wrong and refuse to own up to it.”
Leong, who is running for city council and is a current District 203 board member also addressed the crowd. “Today I’m addressing you as Paul Leong, husband and father of two. I voted against the resolution to give Superintendent Bridges full authority and I was outvoted 6-1. I only get to cast one vote.”
Speakers argued that private and parochial schools were able to find a way to safely reopen full time months ago. “What’s the problem? They didn’t take the summer to figure out how to put our kids back in school,” said Eagan.
There was a police presence in and around the area of the rally for safety purposes.
Current D203, D204 Plans
Naperville School District 203 and Indian Prairie School District 204 recently updated their return-to-learn plans, which will give students the option to attend school five days a week after spring break. District 203 will offer the option for students to return to school full time beginning April 7, with the exception of high schoolers who will attend Monday through Friday from 7:35 to 1:30 p.m. on a four-period block schedule with no lunch. High school students have the limited hours due to a higher student population, which makes eating lunch while maintaining at least three feet of social distance too difficult.
District 204 is planning for its elementary, middle, and high school students to move to five days of in-person learning after spring break, though it is unclear if the move to five days of in-person instruction will be full or half days. Superintendent Adrian Talley said additional schedule changes and dates will be presented to the Board of Education at the March 22, 2021 meeting.
Remote learning will still be offered for students in both districts.
Naperville News 17’s Aysha Ashley Househ reports.
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