ST. CHARLES – A group of parents attending Tuesday's Dist. 303 School Board meeting urged the district to move toward in-person learning five days a week.

St. Charles Dist. 303 high school students are returning to the classroom next week as part of a hybrid of in-person and remote learning. St. Charles East and North high schools have begun the school year with remote learning.

"Although I am thankful that my son will get 2 1/2 days in school for his senior year, I still don’t feel that is enough," said parent Danielle Penman, whose son is a senior at St. Charles East High School. "I feel there are a lot of hurting children, there’s a lot of hurting families in our district that need more. There are educational gaps that are not being met. There are social, emotional and mental issues that are not being addressed and met. Children need support that can’t come from home. They rely on their teachers, their counselors, their educational coaches."

All students will do remote learning on Mondays followed by a blend of in-person and remote learning the rest of the week. St. Charles East and North High School students on Thursday and Friday will attend orientation meetings on the new plan.

“Our kids are the collateral damage due to our own fear,” said St. Charles North High School parent Josh Westerfield, in addressing board members and school district officials. “Come up with a plan to get our kids back in school full-time as soon as possible.”

District officials have said that full in-person learning won't be possible until the state moves into phase five of the Restore Illinois plan. According to the plan, that won't be possible until a vaccine is developed to prevent additional spread of COVID-19, a treatment option is readily available that ensures health care capacity is no longer a concern or there are no new cases over a sustained period.

Elementary school students are currently receiving in-person learning while middle school students have a hybrid of in-person and remote learning. To accommodate families who believe that an online option is best for their child, full remote learning is also being offered on a semester by semester basis.

Several health and safety guidelines will be put in place when high school students return to the classroom, including that student desks will be placed six feet apart in a classroom and students will not be able to use lockers or congregate in hallways. Students also will have to wear masks covering their mouth and nose at all times.

Teachers will be doing in-person and remote learning at the same time.

"Students are in the classroom and at home learning together," District 303 Chief Academic Officer Denise Herrmann has said.

St. Charles East High School parent Kimber McCue objected to that arrangement.

"Teachers not just responsible for teaching kids in-person, but also remote students too," McCue noted. "I will continue to advocate for in-person learning."

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