MORTON, Ill. (WMBD) — Fall semester is approaching and Central Illinois school leaders are preparing plans for the return to school.
The district’s goal is to provide a high-quality educational experience and keep students in good health. The school board members acknowledge the health risks associated with gathering, but members said they are confident with safety precautions there can be a sense of normalcy this upcoming school year. Parents said their kids are ready to get back in the classroom.
“I have kids who are sometimes talking about ‘oh I don’t want to go school’ they maybe had a hard test the next day or something and now they can’t wait,” Ken Zurski, a Morton School District parent said.
Board members call the 2020-2021 school year unpredictable. Although plans can change, the board agrees on a five-day school week. The board is efforting to balance the needs of public health and effective education.
“No one will be 100% happy, but there will be plenty of things for folks to be happy about so I think it’s important for us to keep that balance in mind when moving forward,” Morton Unit School District Superintendent Jeff Hill said.
Zurski said it would be convenient to be informed about the return-to-school plan in its entirety sooner rather than later. “It’s best for the parents to know exactly how things are going to work as soon as possible,” he said. “I think the best thing to do is finalize something now if something should change we all understand that…”
Other school districts are adopting the hybrid learning model, meaning students will rotate from virtual learning to in-person instruction. Hill said there’s no reason why classes cannot be face-to-face, but he asked parents for their input with a survey.
Two thousand three-hundred thirty-five students were spoken for within the parent survey. Hill said 64% of students said they will come back to school. Thirty-four percent said they plan to come back, but would prefer certain conditions to be in place.
Five percent of the group said they will not be coming back, 104 of those responses said their decision is based upon mask requirements. Eleven responses said “No” due to a medical condition.
Four school calendars for the 2020-2021 school year are currently under consideration. Each one differs in the start and end time of classes, duration of holiday breaks and number of emergency days.
School board members said the scenario gaining the most traction starts on Aug. 11, 2020 and ends on June 2, 2021 for students. Christmas vacation would begin Dec. 19, 2020 and end Jan. 3, 2021.
Board members said they will recommend a return to school plan by July 21.