On Oct. 13, the SD308 school board approved a plan to return to in-person learning starting in January 2021 after the holiday break. The plan has resulted in mixed reactions from parents, students, and staff, and has ignited a debate that many school districts in the area are having: When is it safe to send our students back to school?
Many community members and students have been pushing for a return to in-person learning, and they finally got their wish. Despite COVID-19 numbers spiking across Illinois, Kendall County included, 308 has their eyes set on getting students back into the classroom.
“Students don’t learn well sitting alone in a room by themselves, it’s not a good environment for kids,” SD308 parent Joe Praska said. “Humans are social creatures, we need to be with other people. Kids need to be in school for their social development, for their mental development, their scholastic development, and sitting at home isn’t doing them any good.”
The plan isn’t perfect in the eyes of those who support the move to hybrid learning. Some have objections in the structure of the day.
“The concept of having half days just does not make sense to me,” senior Kevin Plata said. “I think that it would be easier to just alternate days between students according to their last name.”
Those who oppose the plan do not want to add more confusion to the day.
“Having a half day of school in person and [a half day of school] remote[ly] just makes it even more complicated than it already is,” Plata said. “What if students don’t have reliable transportation or what if students [continue to] struggle because they now have remote and in person learning to deal with.”
Under the current plan, the district is providing transportation to students as they would in a normal year.
Of course there are health concerns, but some believe we can return safely if guidelines are met and followed.
“I think there are things that could be put into place very easily to protect students and teachers,” Praska said. “Teachers need to be there, they are essential workers. We can protect them with barriers, and cleaning, and maintain social distancing.”
Many districts in the area are putting back their current plans to return to in person learning. Naperville Community Unit School District 203 has postponed their plans to have 50% capacity after Thanksgiving due to soaring COVID numbers. Whether or not 308 will attempt a return to in person learning come January is still up in the air. It depends on the positivity rate in Kendall County, which currently sits at a staggering 18.1%.
The plan looks to be up in the air, as the IHSA called an immediate pause to winter sports on Nov. 19, following Governor JB Pritzker’s reinstatement of Phase 3 guidelines. If there is no sign of a flattening curve within 14-day increments, Pritzker may look to revert to Phase 2, and initiate another stay-home order. The IHSA Board of Directors plans to meet virtually on Dec. 2 and revisit the status of winter sports.