There are no good options here for anyone.
Parents want their children to go back to school. That’s the best place for them to learn and grow. Parents need their kids in school so they can get back to work to earn a living to pay the mortgage or rent and put food on the table. Many parents also are not cut out for or have the time to be home-school teachers, guiding their children through detailed online lesson plans while also working from home – if they can.
Teachers want to be back in the classroom with their students. For teachers, it’s their life’s calling and interacting with their students online just doesn’t cut it. They and their students both need that daily in-person interaction if students are to learn and succeed. But the teachers have their own concerns. Some, including those with diabetes or other health conditions, are rightfully wary of putting themselves in danger by returning to the classroom. They know the COVID-19 virus that causes what President Trump describes as “sniffles” in young people can put adults, including teachers, in the hospital and possibly kill them.
Administrators and principals want students and teachers back in the classroom, too. They were once teachers, and educating students remains their life’s work. Like the parents and teachers, they never thought they would see a day when their schools would be closed indefinitely and they would have to design complex plans over a period of weeks for their students to learn online at home or to split their time between online learning and the classroom.
The COVID-19 pandemic has indeed been a disaster for Kendall County families and schools as well as the rest of the nation and world.
Still, we’ve been impressed with the reopening plans that administrators in the Oswego, Yorkville, Plano and Sandwich school districts have put forth over the past three weeks. In general, the plans make the best of this awful situation by allowing parents to choose whether their children will learn entirely online or split their time in the classroom and at home at the computer.
The plans were put together with the knowledge that at any time Gov. JB Pritzker could order all state schools to begin the new school year remotely. As of this writing, that hasn’t happened yet, but it remains a very real possibility because of the slow, yet steady growth in COVID-19 cases throughout the state and the sharply rising number of cases in most of the rest of the country.
We’ll have to wait a few more weeks to see what the COVID-19 trend looks like in Illinois, but at the very least local school districts now have plans they can use to start the school year next month or fall back on in the event schools reopen then need to be shut down this fall or winter.