The Examiner U-46 News Feed
U-46 Board ratifies new remote learning policy
By Seth Hancock
The Board of Education in School District U-46 unanimously approved, of a new policy concerning remote educational programs going forward as full in-person learning is expected to return for the 2021-2022 school year.
The policy was approved at a special board meeting on Monday, May 24, a week after a May 17 meeting when the district said it needed to wait to be told what to do by the state.
Luis Rodriguez, assistant attorney, said the new policy “highlights the key tenants of the Illinois School Code” as the district follows the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) which approved a resolution last week: “All schools must resume full in-person learning for all student attendance days provided that remote instruction be made available for students who are not eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine and are under a quarantine order by a local public health department or the Illinois Department of Public Health.”
What is planned is a Distance Learning Academy for students who are unvaccinated and have a health risk from COVID-19. Students would need both a doctor’s note and parental/guardian statement detailing the health risk to be accepted to the program, and students would have to commit to a full year of distance learning with a request needing to be made by June 2.
Board member Dawn Martin said she wasn’t “comfortable putting in new board policy in like two to three days’ notice,” and asked that the policy be regularly reviewed. Rodriguez noted the policy states it must be reviewed annually.
Authoritarian measures will remain in-person next year with “prioritize(d) universal and correct use of masks and physical distancing,” said Suzanne Johnson, assistant superintendent of instruction. She said “strategies” used this year are required by the Centers for Disease Control which also includes contact tracing, occupancy limits and self-certification.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s executive order, which is not law, is expected to be lifted regarding distancing requirements in school and means a return to “pre-pandemic practices,” Johnson said.
“We continue to have to follow federal, state and local health guidelines,” said Superintendent Tony Sanders who lamented “it would have made it a lot easier” to be able to operate the same way they have this school year.
“It feels like this step is too soon,” said board member Kate Thommes.
Board member Melissa Owens said unironically the ISBE “completely takes local control away from us,” even though the district has stated throughout the entirety of lockdown it just follows orders from “federal, state and local” entities.