Peoria Public Schools returning to in-person learning for select groups

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PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Peoria Public Schools (PPS) will begin phasing in K-1 students and certain special education groups to in-person instruction, officials announced Wednesday.

District 150’s Superintendent Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat sent voicemail messages to parents with children in these age groups announcing the news, saying these grades will return to in-class learning starting on October 5th.

“Every available guidance and research put out by national and state education leaders says younger students and youngest learners and special ed students should be prioritized for in-person it makes sense, they need a lot of specializing support,” she said.

Masks are required for all students and staff. Classes will be in a split schedule and special education will be self-contained. Demoulin-Kherat said the hybrid model will allow for smaller classroom sizes, adding only 12-15 students will be in each class.

K-1 students will return starting Monday, Oct. 5 while self-contained special education students will return starting Monday, Oct. 12. On ‘A’ days, students will be in person Mondays and Wednesdays, and ‘B’ day students will attend class in-person Tuesdays and Thursdays. On Fridays, students will rotate.

Demoulin-Kherat also adds parents will not be able to keep their child in class if they do not have their immunization and physical by Oct. 15

Desmoulin-Kherat said PPS will continue to monitor local COVID-19 metrics to assess whether in-person instruction can be expanded to more grade levels. However, she said she is confident she will be able to phase in the next group of students soon.

Desmoulin-Kherat said staff will notify parents of students in these grade levels with more information starting Thursday. Parents that prefer their students to remain in distance learning will still have that option available to them.

About 900 students have been doing in-class learning since July 22. She said English Language Learning students, Woodruff and Valeska Hinton Early Childhood students have successfully attended in-person learning. Kherat said those students haven’t contracted COVID-19.

Bus route information will be available by mail for eligible parents a week before school start.

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