Peoria school board votes hybrid learning for the 2020-2021 school year

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PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Monday, the Peoria Public Schools board voted 5-2, for an option that would blend learning, meaning students will alternate in-person instruction with virtual instruction.

Peoria students have not been in the classrooms since March 16, 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in school closings nationwide. This forced students to transition to remote learning for the duration of the semester. In response, the school board created the Return-to-School committee to discuss and develop options for re-opening schools.

After 7 meetings and 64 subcommittee meetings within six weeks, the committee developed a re-opening plan for the 2020-2021 school year.

The committee said the board should focus on elements that address concerns made by a number of stakeholders, including teachers, administrative staff, and others. Those elements include:

  • Wellness
  • Human Resources
  • Technology
  • Instruction
  • Operations
  • Finance

The committee also released a three-stage plan for returning to school, which are:

  • Option A – Continuation of Virtual Instruction
  • Option B – Blended Learning Model which alternates in-person instruction with virtual instruction (a.k.a. A/B Days w/Friday being a flexible schedule day)
  • Option C – Resumption of full in-person instruction (i.e. traditional classroom model)

The committee recommended Option B as the most viable path forward. Peoria Public Schools board president Dan Adler said neither of the options are ideal solutions, but Option B is the safest.

Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat said everyone would prefer the traditional model, adding they want to get back to normal.

“We want our kids back with us. It would be the easiest thing,” Dr. Kherat said. “What we’re presenting to you is going to be very very difficult. It’s one thing to have a concept it’s another to implement it. That’s where the work begins.”

The committee said they sent out a parent survey to get feedback from families. There were 3,556 total participants. One of the questions on the survey asked which was the preferred model. School leaders said the prevailing model is the hybrid or Option B.

Here are the rotations for each grade level under the hybrid model:

Pre-K:

  • Four days a week

K-8:

  • Two days a week
  • A/B Rotation

9-12:

  • Two days a week
  • A/B Rotation

Special Ed (self-contained):

  • Four days a week

For students with A/B rotation schedules, (A) students would come to school Monday and Wednesday, participate in virtual learning on Tuesday and Thursday.

(B) students would come to school Tuesday and Thursday and participate in virtual learning Monday and Wednesday. Friday would be flexible, meaning teachers can decide.

The board recommends all students wear face coverings when they return back to school. Also, full-service transportation is expected to be available.

There is a full virtual learning option available for parents during registration starting July 8.

Some board members, like Dan Walther, said it was too soon to vote on this option. Walther said the plan was comprehensive and that they needed more time to digest the information. Majority of the board was ready to move forward, therefore the proposal to accept the plan passed.

The plan is only preliminary and subject to change after receiving guidance from the Illinois Government. The board will continue discussing training measures for staff, and safety procedures for the upcoming school-year.

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