The District 88 Board of Education approved the motion to move forward into the Remote Plus phase of the return to school plan on Monday, Oct. 5. However, because the threat of Covid-19 has risen throughout DuPage county, they recently reversed the decision, deciding to bring the district back into its Remote phase. We, the editorial board of the AT Torch, agree with and support these decisions as we feel they correctly follow health protocols and provide students with the best learning opportunities available without compromising safety.
Seeing that both the state and the county have seen unpredictable and frequent changes in case numbers, the positivity rate, and other key data points, we believe that the opinions of health experts should certainly have a strong presence in all return to school decisions. The Board followed these protocols.
The Illinois Department of Public Health has divided districts into three categories of risk: red, orange, and yellow. These categories, with red constituting the highest risk and yellow the lowest, have been used to determine which phase of the Board’s reopening plan we should fall under.
During the Board of Education meeting on Oct. 5, the board explained that DuPage County’s numbers had placed it in the orange category and the decision to move to remote plus was made.
Because we believe that Covid-19 is serious and a threat to our safety as students, we agree that we should not yet return to hybrid learning until we fall into the yellow range. We trust the health experts and agree that our numbers as a county can certainly improve.
On the flip side, we also acknowledge the improvement that the remote plus phase would have brought to the education both AT and Willowbrook are currently receiving remotely.
Under the remote plus phase, many of the District’s students in special education programs would have been able to enter the building to learn. We feel that this was the right decision to make at the time, as it would allow for improvements in personalized learning opportunities for these members of our student body.
Remote Plus also would have allowed students taking courses requiring hands on experience to come into the building, per teacher request. These classes may include auto shop classes or science classes with labs. Having taken many of these classes ourselves, we believe that they can not be held strictly online. Learning how to make a piece of furniture or how to create a certain chemical reaction is not an experience that can be replicated over a zoom class.
We agree that remote plus would be necessary for the best learning experience possible for these students – if health wasn’t compromised.
On Monday, Oct. 19, conditions moved from moderate to substantial as DuPage county shifted from the orange category to the red one. As a result, the Board of education made the decision to bring the district back into strictly remote learning. This news was both surprising and devastating for many students and parents, however, the Editorial Board once again agrees with the decision made.
Despite the fact that we strongly believe that many classes can not be replicated without their hands on experience portions, we also accept that allowing students to obtain this interactive experience is only the best decision if the health of our staff and students is not at risk.
Because we as a county now have data points that place us in the substantial transmission category, we recognize and agree that it is unsafe for our special education students and students in hands-on classes to return at this time.
We once again applaud the board of education for its decisions to trust the science, experts, and numbers.
We the Torch staff ultimately commend both decisions made by the Board of Education. We praise them for their following of the guidelines set by the Illinois Department of Public Health as well as for allowing for students to receive as many experiences as possible given each situation.