Unit 5 Superintendent wants in-person learning in October; parents and teachers still upset

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NORMAL, Ill (WMBD) — Wednesday night’s Unit 5 school board meeting was packed for the first time in months, filled with angry parents and teachers voicing concerns about remote learning.

Unit 5 Superintendent Dr. Kristen Kendrick-Weikle is sticking to what she said at the beginning of the year. She wants to have in-person learning in October. However, she’s waiting for the number of COVID-19 cases to trend downward before that happens.

“Parents wanted to give E-learning a fair try,” said Amberly Herbst. “I think they are seeing from a lot of parents, its just not working. I think the overarching thing from what we hear tonight, is communication.”

During the meeting, more than 20 parents stood up at the podium asked for more transparency.

“We don’t have a clear understanding of when they’re coming back or why,” said Mollie Emery. “What’s holding them up from coming back? The rest of the world has things that are opened up, and our children still can’t come to school.”

Some parents and teachers said the lesson plans are fine, but that’s not the problem.

“If I came here only to teach commas and punctuation, then I missed my calling,” said Unit 5 Teacher, Jim Rumps. “Teaching is more than just the curriculum.  You are actually reaching out to kids and speaking life into those kids. You can’t do that through a computer screen.”

Superintendent Weikle said the district is currently working on a plan to return in October, but parents want to know what that plan is.

“We have not been communicated with fairly,” said Herbst. “Once school started it was deafening silent.”

“What metric, what date,” said Emery. “What things are we waiting on for this to happen, and then can you relay it to me once you know those things?”

Weikle said the plan is dependent on what she calls COVID-19 metrics, and until those show positive signs, there may not be in person instruction.

She said she doesn’t want to jeopardize the health and safety of students and staff while the virus is still very much here.

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