Open Schools Rally
Hundreds gathered at the “Rally to Open Naperville Schools NOW” yesterday at Rotary Hill.
Community members and multiple speakers advocated for getting kids back into the classroom, hoping Naperville school districts will listen.
After the public heard from the speakers, some marched to Naperville Central where the District 203 school board of education meeting was taking place.
The crowd dispersed after being told they couldn’t be on school property.
District 203 Board Meeting
But some parents voiced their concerns directly to the board.
“I do believe that families that want and need eLearning should have that choice,” said District 203 parent, Chris Silagi. “But I ask why is it that only families that desire remote learning are being served, while the rest of us are not given an option?”
The mother of a four-year-old autistic boy at Ann Reid, Marty Philipchuck, hopes to have a choice.
“It is heartbreaking to see him regress so much in these past few months,” said Philipchuck. “Kids with IEP’s, they really do need to be in-person. Anything that we can do to get these children back in school, I beg you. Please, please consider it.”
Small groups of IEP students have begun in-person instruction since the second week of school.
Superintendent Dan Bridges addressed some of these concerns at the meeting.
“It’s not an easy time for any of us, it’s not an easy time for you. I understand that, I respect that, I hear you,” said Bridges. “I’m especially empathetic to those of you with the youngest students in our district and those that have unique needs that need to be served.”
He said the district is working on developing and implementing a plan that provides consistent in-person learning for IEP students that could start in mid-October.
Students Could Return Mid-October
Stage 2 of the Return to Learn Plan also includes bringing early childhood to second grade students back to school for some form of in-person learning, then phasing in third through fifth grade soon after.
“Starting out with smaller groups of students will help to assess our processes and procedures as we increase the number of students in the buildings during this phase,” said Bridges. “eLearning continues for students who are unable to attend in-person learning.”
Junior high and high school students will continue mostly with eLearning in Stage 2 with some in-person learning experiences.
Families are asked to fill out a survey to gather input for Stage 2 planning.
“Thank you to our community for your passion and for continuing to advocate for your kids and we ask that you keep it up because as we go through this together, these are the things that are helping us as a school district to really find the answers to the questions that need to be found,” said board president, Kristen Fitzgerald.
Naperville News 17’s Aysha Ashley Househ reports.