The school board of Community Unit School District 200, based in Wheaton, Illinois, voted Wednesday night to move students in grades 6 through 12 to full remote learning beginning Monday, November 16, the district announced.
The board will revisit the reopening issue at its December 9 meeting. Early childhood, elementary, the district’s “Transition Program,” and specialized instructional program students will maintain their current learning models.
“While we have seen positive cases rise in both our students and staff, we believe, that based on those current instructional models, we are able to continue offering the in-person experience in those programs,” wrote Superintendent Jeff Schuler. “We will continue to monitor our school-level data as we evaluate those learning models on a weekly basis and determine if there is a need to implement an adaptive pause, which would entail a move to full remote learning.”
The district, which serves about 12,500 students from early childhood through 12th grade, joins a rapidly growing list of schools across the country that tried to reopen or use a hybrid learning model but have had to reconsider that decision in the wake of record numbers of Covid infections and hospitalizations nationwide, making communities all too aware of the virus’s ability to spread through the community.
“Most of the country, when you look at the map, a lot of them have case rates that I would say are too high to open schools,” The New York Times quoted Benjamin Linas, an associate professor of medicine and epidemiology at Boston University, as saying. “It’s a crisis for public education.”
Philadelphia announced it will delay in-person instruction beyond the original plan of November 30 for its youngest students, saying remote learning will continue for all students “until further notice.”
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“Across all of our schools, we have been diligent with our COVID-19 mitigation strategies including wearing masks, maintaining physical distance, practicing good hand hygiene, frequent and regular cleaning and sanitizing, implementing enhanced air ventilation strategies, and monitoring any health concerns or symptoms,” Mr Schuler wrote.
“While we are confident the virus is not being transmitted within our schools, we are also aware that our school-based mitigation efforts are not being replicated outside of school, and that has resulted in creating unsustainable learning models in grades 6 through 12.
“This is certainly not the way we wanted the school year to progress,” he continued “We ask that all members of our school community continue to do their part to flatten the number of COVID-19 cases in our community so that we can not only keep students in school, but we can return students in grades 6-12 as soon as possible.”