ADDED: SCHOOL RESPONSE SINCE THE RELEASE OF THIS ARTICLE
Currently, Champaign Schools has presented two options for families, either blended-learning or virtual learning. However, many parents are still concerned that the plans need more time to develop as they are still not able to address major concerns.
Parent’s in Champaign Schools voice concerns about schools reopening plans. During the July 13th, Champaign School Board meeting parent Rita Conerly raised serious concerns with both blended and virtual classroom options presented by the board.
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Parent concerns with blended learning:
1. Parents with multiple children may have difficulty making sure that each of them is where they’re supposed to be at varying times. Siblings with different last names, may not end up going to school on the same days. This may lead to young children having to travel to school alone, where they used to go with their older siblings.
Photo: CDC/ Amanda Mills
2. All children sitting at their desks for long hours. Students with IEP, ADHD, and any child would have a hard time with being required to sit in school from 7a-2p wearing a face mask, restricted to a 4 x 4 space, with limited social interaction. Having only eaten breakfast, no snacks, no water fountains, no library, no musical instruction, no water fountains and limited movement, in reality, will not work for most children.
3. Additionally, 4 feet between each student does not comply with the state’s regulations of 6 feet between each person to practicing social distancing.
4. Transportation. While it is understood that transportation will be available, it will be reduced down to 50 children per bus to adhere to the social distancing order. Again, this recommendation does not comply with what with the states suggesting of 6ft.
Parental concerns with Virtual Learning:
1. What about families with more than two children? The district provided me with 2 chrome books, not enough for my children to effectively learn with what’s being proposed.
2. More work needs to be done to come up with an adequate plan that considers our most vulnerable children and the risk of being exposed. Children with IEPs & 504 Plans, ESL, and those already failing to thrive due to this poor educational system, and its failure to provide extra help to those that need it most!
3. What role will the parents now play with the limited numbers of people allowed in the schools? Will virtual parents be allowed to access the school?
4. In addition, what resources will be available to those that need mental and emotional support for students and teachers having difficulty adjusting to the new norm?
1. Now is the time to lean on the community! Districts could seek to create and build new relationships with churches, other businesses with space to fill with our students and educators. Or, consider using other administrative conference rooms in the district.
2. Plan for access to massive testing. Currently, in the Champaign area, the University of Illinois has the best rapid testing for COVID-19, but it is only for its students and staff. We need a plan for all schools to have access to rapid testing.
3. Practice a plan, before implementing it. Administrators and teachers that agree with a plan should mimic what it looks like in a video showing from the time a child is picked up until they’re expected to return home and share it with the community!