Petition for Full In-Person Learning
“We are calling for the Board of Education of Naperville School District 203 to demand that Dan Bridges deliver and execute a plan for a return to full time, in person learning by April 7, 2021, or be terminated from his position as Superintendent of Schools,” said District 203 parent, Chris Pieters. “Our community needs you step up. Our community needs you to be leaders and get our children back to school full time.”
Some District 203 parents have started a petition that now has over 1,300 signatures calling for a return to full in-person learning.
“We appreciate the petition that was delivered to the board in this regard. The board shares the community’s support for in-person learning,” said Kristen Fitzgerald, District 203 board president. “From the beginning our goal has been to return to in-person learning as soon as it can be done safely. We share your concerns and we are working to address your students’ needs in every way possible.”
Frustrations with Hybrid Learning
24 parents and students spoke during public comment at District 203’s board meeting Monday night, some telling incumbent board members their seats are at risk and all expressing their frustrations with hybrid learning.
“My kids are both struggling both academically and emotionally. Now that we’re hybrid, getting my kids to engage on Mondays is a disaster,” said District 203 parent, Jennifer Bogusevic. “Tears and tantrums are now a normal part of our Monday morning routine because they hate e-Learning so much.”
“Your plan has been stagnant. Up until a month ago when we moved to hybrid, my kids sat isolated in their rooms for months staring at a computer every day while I went off to teach students in-person,” said Jen Reichardt, a District 203 parent. “I felt extremely guilty seeing what my kids were missing out on.”
Due to capacity limits, many more also waited outside for their turn to speak, with police brought in for crowd control.
“I would like to acknowledge that we do have individuals outside. Unfortunately we are bound by the 50 person limit for this meeting, however we would like individuals to submit their comments by email,” said Fitzgerald.
The district said due to the 50-person limit, that leaves around 25 spots for the public. Others were not let in because they do not mix cohorts of people.
What Metrics Need to be Met?
Some from the community questioned what metrics need to be met for kids to get back to school full time.
After public comment, district administration shared those details.
“We need the community spread to be at the low or moderate range of transmission which means that we have less than 50 new cases per 100,000 and a positivity rate at or below 7%,” said Christine Igoe, assistant superintendent for student services. “When the community spread is within this range we are able to have students within a class, cohort, or pod be within six feet of each other which means all students who elect in person learning would be able to attend.”
According to Naperville District 203, there are currently 108 new cases per 100,000 – meaning the district is at a high transmission level.
The current positivity rate is 3.18%. Though this metric is below 7%, CDC recommendations state both metrics need to be looked at.
If the transmission level and positivity rate are different, then the trend of the higher threshold should be used.
When Will Students Return to Full In-Person Learning?
Though the community is currently at the high transmission level, Superintendent Bridges is optimistic metrics will continue to trend down.
“We are actively planning for an increase of in-person learning this spring as the metrics continue to look favorable,” said Bridges. “Six feet of distancing right now is still the greatest barrier but if we consistently trend towards the low to moderate transmission range that allows us greater flexibility.”
They currently plan to bring an additional 445 elementary students to in-person learning beginning March 16.
Administration will share more details on bringing back all students at the March 15 meeting.
The district is also planning for a full return for the 2021-2022 school year.
“So long as our state government or public health officials don’t tell us we can’t, we plan to be in person five days per week next school year,” said Bridges.
The full board of education meeting can be found here.
Naperville News 17’s Aysha Ashley Househ reports.