Peoria Public Schools parents weigh options for the new school year

Local News

PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — On Aug. 19, Peoria Public Schools students will return for the school year.

Ahead of the semester, parents were given two options: a blended learning model with two days a week in the classroom and alternating Friday schedules, or a virtual learning plan.

Many parents said it was a tough decision.

“I’ve kind of been back and forth with the decision – is this the correct decision for me and my family to make?” asked Caitlin Moats.

Moats said her 13-year-old son Austin will go to Lindbergh Middle School for the blended learning model.

“The chances, in my opinion, of him getting sick are a lot lower than if it was all in, five days a week,” said Moats.

Moats said Austin has an individualized education plan and gets personalized help in the classroom.

“He has trouble you know doing assignments by himself. He needs that one on one attention,” said Moats.

She said Austin struggled with e-learning in the spring and sending him to school is the best decision for her family.

“Whatever decision that a school district makes, whatever decision that parents make, you’re not going to make everybody happy,” said Moats.

But some parents have concerns about the safety of in-person learning.

“I think it’s an experiment, and a bad one at that,” said Kristen Meierkord.

Meierkord’s 7-year-old daughter Harlow will not be attending Glen Oak Community Learning Center for second grade this fall.

Harlow is one of the 2,075 students so far that have enrolled in the district’s virtual learning option.

A spokesperson says of the district’s roughly 13,000 total students, about 16 percent have enrolled in the virtual learning plan.

“You see how it’s spreading so quickly in these indoor areas with recirculated air. I just don’t see how it can safely happen for children. Especially younger children at that,” said Meierkord.

Kristen is preparing to have to help teach her daughter and is buying new books and materials for the year.

“It’s just an adjustment for me, but I’m learning along with her,” said Meierkord.

Meierkord says she understands it’s a tough decision for parents, but says her daughter’s health is her priority.

“I’m not going to let her be a guinea pig. I don’t want to see any of these children or teachers or staff be guinea pigs to an experiment that has the potential to go very wrong,” said Meierkord.

A Peoria Public Schools survey estimated around 15-20 percent of students would enroll in virtual learning.

The district spokesperson said so far, the projections are on track.

The deadline for returning families to enroll in the virtual option was July 24. New students can continue to register for the virtual option, so final calculations may change.

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