School Year Should Start Remotely
A newly formed Facebook group, Illinois for a Safe Return to Campus, is a group of Illinois educators, school staff, parents, and students who are promoting the idea that the school year should start remotely. They believe it’s not safe to return to school until counties in the state report no new cases of COVID-19 for 14 days.
“Remote start, at the very least, is the safest way to get kids back to the face-to-face instruction that we all know is better for them, but might be a little too quick if the communities still have numbers trending towards that 5% positivity rate,” said Linda Bennett, a Naperville teacher and member of Illinois for a Safe Return to Campus.
Bennett said the group wants students back in the classroom, but fears there are still too many questions no one has the answers to with new and changing information about COVID-19.
Online Academy Different From Remote Learning
Bennett reminds parents the curriculum on Online Academy will look different than remote learning from the past spring semester.
She said teachers didn’t have enough time to prepare when schools shut down unexpectedly in March, but now educators have had time to plan out their studies.
The group knows it can be hard for working parents to find childcare. Some members of the group are supporting the idea of opening schools with socially distanced pods. The students would still be working remotely, but have a safe space to go to during school hours.
“It is absolutely unfair not to address families that need somewhere for their kids to be,” said Bennett. “I’m 56. When I read all the risks for my age group, I don’t sleep at night. But I also know 30-year-old teachers who cannot wait to get back in. They could teach remotely from an empty classroom. It’s a cool model because it takes care of, ‘where do the kids go?’ The kids who want to work from home and whose parents want to keep them home, have their kids at home.”
Planned Car Caravan
The group hopes to receive feedback and more ideas from their “call to action presentation” before districts 203 and 204’s school board meetings on August 3. Some members will participate in a car caravan in front of both school district buildings with a question posted on each car window.
Some of their most pressing questions include: what PPE gear is required for staff and students and will there be PPE training for staff and students? Another question addresses what to do for kids who need “a break” from wearing their masks.
Bennett said she understands school administrators are working on finding solutions, which is why they decided to wait until August 3.
“We know the schools are working really hard, we know that they are addressing these, and we know that they have some answers that we don’t know they have yet,” said Bennett. “So we thought it would be kind of unfair to say ‘we don’t know this’ and the school turns around and says, ‘you’re jumping the gun.'”
For now, the car caravan will only include school districts 203 and 204.
Naperville News 17’s Aysha Ashley Househ reports.
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