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Yorkville School District superintendent: Families may not be able to change learning model for second semester

File photo: Yorkville School District 115 Superintendent Tim Shimp listens during the district's Sept. 14 Board of Education committee of the whole meeting at the Yorkville High School library.
File photo: Yorkville School District 115 Superintendent Tim Shimp listens during the district's Sept. 14 Board of Education committee of the whole meeting at the Yorkville High School library.

YORKVILLE – Yorkville School District families may not have the chance to change instructional methods amid the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, according to school officials.

Tim Shimp, superintendent for Yorkville School District 115, wrote in an email to district families on Friday, Sept. 25 there are several things to celebrate about a month into the school year, including how families were provided with a choice between full in person, hybrid and full remote instruction, and parents being diligent about ensuring the health and safety of their children so kids can be on school campuses. However, he wrote, he's the first to admit there have been bumps in the road and continued adjustments are necessary continuing on with the school year.

Shimp wrote parents were asked to choose a learning model for their children before the school year began, with the understanding that the district would review the programming options at the end of the first quarter on Oct. 23. He wrote the hope was students would be allowed to change learning models after the nine weeks as the district continued to follow health and safety guidelines set by state agencies.

"Unfortunately, without a change in the governor’s attendance restrictions (distancing restrictions for large gatherings), our district will be unable to increase the number of students on our school campuses at the end of the first quarter," Shimp wrote. "Therefore, all students (on-site, hybrid, and e-learners) must maintain their current learning model for the second quarter."

Shimp wrote most of the district's schools are at full capacity for students, with only a few openings available at specific schools and grade levels. Because of that, the district set up a waiting list for students who have an identified need to change learning models, he wrote.

Enclosed in the email was a link for a survey families can take and tell district officials whether their students have special needs or are in the district's dual language program, according to the first page of the survey.

Shimp wrote families who want their children to be considered for a change in learning models are asked to say so in the survey. He wrote the survey responses will be reviewed in order to create a district-wide, needs-based waiting list with requests filled as space allows.

Shimp wrote district officials will provide families with another update before winter break about the status of student attendance options and whether state restrictions will allow the district to welcome additional students to either the on-site or hybrid models. He wrote families also are asked to specify learning model preferences to help the district prepare for when state guidelines would allow for more students to attend school on campus.

"I, like most parents, anxiously await the day when all our students can return to our buildings," Shimp wrote to the families. "Until then, be proud of what this community has done to bring a sense of normalcy to an unusual school year."

Along with Yorkville district parents and guardians, students also received the Friday email.

Shimp was not immediately available for additional comment on Friday, Sept. 25 evening at the request of Record Newspapers.

The district's next Board of Education meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 28 remotely and at the Yorkville High School library.

• This story will be updated as more information becomes available.

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