The Examiner U-46 News Feed
District U-46 continuing remote learning for now
By Seth Hancock
Despite few COVID-19 cases within School District U-46, the district plans to forge ahead with little in-person learning for the foreseeable future as U-46 administrators allow health departments, local to federal, to control its decision-making.
Since March 9, there have been 107 cases of U-46 staff and 58 cases from students according to a presentation to the Board of Education on Monday, Sept. 14 in a virtual meeting. No numbers were provided on how many of those cases led to hospitalization.
The district attendance rate in distance learning has been 93 percent, below the regular 95 percent in past years, according to the district data.
The district has been in all distance learning to start the 2020-2021 school year for all students according to Suzanne Johnson, deputy superintendent of instruction. She said a hybrid model, which is “smaller groups for some in-person instruction on certain days throughout a week,” is tentatively scheduled to start on Oct. 26 for select groups of students.
Originally, the district planned to introduce the hybrid model through middle school students, but the list appears to be getting smaller. No discussion has been completed of when high school students may return in person.
Priority groups for hybrid will be self-contained special education, transition programming, needs-based, instructional learning and modified learning programs, deaf and hard of hearing and pre-kindergarten through second grade students.
The district has sent a survey to parents as “students would have options to remain in distanced learning or transition to that hybrid model,” Johnson said. Those selected for hybrid would expect to be in-person two days a week for three to six hours day with class sizes of 12 to 15 students with social distancing guidelines and mandatory masks.
Superintendent Tony Sanders said returning middle school students to in-person “will be challenging,” and following various guidelines “is a challenge for a district that is as large as U-46 and for schools that are as large as our schools are.”
Sanders warned the public that they must wear masks outside the home as “that is the only way that we will be able to get kids back into the schools quickly.”
The district’s decision-making process is coming from the Centers for Disease Control, the state’s health department and school board and the Cook, DuPage and Kane county health agencies.
“We continually get updated guidelines from every organization that has oversight over what we’re doing here,” Sanders said.
Sanders said the most common question he receives is why other area school districts have been able to return but not U-46, and “I would reference the fact that we are in three different counties.”
Johnson said testing, like SATs, are still planned which normally take place in the spring, but “those policy decisions and direction will need to remain fluid.”