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Local News

Let families change instruction method? Yorkville School District officials working on next steps

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YORKVILLE – Yorkville School District 115 officials said they are working on developing a timeline for when families will be able to change their instructional method preference for the school year on a needs and first come, first serve basis.

Tim Shimp, superintendent for the district, previously sent an email to district students and families that they may not have the chance to change instructional methods for next quarter after all amid the continuing COVID-19 pandemic. Since the e-mail was sent last week, he said during the district's Monday, Sept. 28 Board of Education meeting, staff already has received multiple emails from families about that Friday email he sent out, including parents saying how disappointed they are about the change in plans on the district's end.

Shimp said he understands those families' point of view.

"I'm just as disappointed as everybody," Shimp said.

Shimp's comments come after Yorkville school district officials initially approved a plan where families would have their pick of three choices: full in-person learning, full e-learning or a hybrid of the two. The understanding was that families would commit to the choice for at least the first quarter of the school year and the thought, per district officials, was that families would be able to revisit their instructional method choice for the second quarter.

Shimp wrote in the Friday email 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. School officials confirmed families have until Friday, Oct. 2 to complete the surveys.

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 said the timeline for when families would know whether they indeed are able to switch their instructional method preference has yet to be determined.

Nick Baughman, associate superintendent for learning and instruction for the district, said there have been 1,800 respondents to the survey as of about 8 p.m. Monday. So far, he said, about 85% to 90% of families want to continue with their current instructional method choice.

"So it's pretty encouraging," Baughman said.

For those who have expressed they want to change their mind if they are able to, Baughman said, the majority of the requested changes are from full remote learning to coming back into school buildings.

Shimp said teachers are eager to return to a classroom full of kids again. But school officials also want that to happen when it's safe and healthy to do so, he said.

“We’re looking forward to the day where that could happen,” Shimp said.

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