East Peoria District 86 junior high students return to in-person classes after unanimous vote

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EAST PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — East Peoria District 86 parents who were in attendance for a special board meeting Tuesday night were frustrated after district leaders decided last minute to change their in-person learning plan.

Less than 12 hours before class was sent to resume this Monday, at East Peoria Central Junior High School, parents learned from a voicemail that students would continue remote learning instead.

District 86 superintendent Tony Ingold said the board was still concerned about the junior high’s return to the in-person learning plan, causing him to change the plans Sunday night as students and parents were preparing to return to school.

Meanwhile, kindergarten through fifth graders in the same district did go back to in-person learning on Monday.

Parents attending Monday’s nearly three-hour-long meeting said they were frustrated with the district’s lack of communication. East Peoria Mayor John Kahl was in attendance as a concerned parent and urged board members to take control of their leadership role(s).

“Whatever decision you walk away with tonight, you’re not going to please everyone,” Kahl said. “You have to get that out of your mind, step up into your leadership role and make tough decisions and once you make that decision, move forward with it.”

The district board voted unanimously to resume in-person instruction for 6th, 7th, and 8th graders this Thursday, Sept 24, four days after the agreed-upon plan back in July.

Board members and administrators warned parents plans may change based on the levels of COVID-19 in East Peoria and Tazewell County and how the transition shapes up after Thursday and Friday.

Parents walked away pleased and thanked board members for voting in their favor and giving them and their students what they asked for.

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