District 25 Announces 2020-21 School Year Will Start 100% Remotely, But Provides No Details on How Remote Learning Will Be Robust

South Middle School Front Entrance
South Middle School (file photo).

Students from District 25 in Arlington Heights will begin the 2020-2021 school year learning remotely, involving a 5-hour instructional day with 2 1/2 hours of live interaction between teachers and students, according to email sent to parents Monday July 27, 2020. While a survey of District 25 families discovered that 49% preferred a Full In-Person model, 27% preferred a Hybrid model and 25% preferred a Full Remote model; the school district chose the lowest favored and lowest risk option as a precautionary.

Although Superintendent Lori Bein said she was confident in staff’s ability to be creative in the ways that they connect with Arlington Heights school children, she provided no assurances in the letter that teaching staff had prepared for remote education over the summer in the event of the need to switch to online-only education. Also, there was no mention in the letter regarding how online technology will be used, or how the innovations will be encouraged to take advantage of Internet technology during the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.

South Middle School Front Entrance
South Middle School (file photo).




The letter from Bein focused on comparing online and onsite learning, the “difficulty of the times”, and the need to be flexible; but did not provide leadership and confidence regarding how technology will be used to provide effective remote learning, or define how the remote instruction will be “robust” — as described in the District 25 letter to parents. There was no mention regarding usable technologies, such as YouTube, Vimeo, Zoom or proprietary technologies that may available for use by District 25.

Bein did not provide an explanation regarding why only 2 1/2 hours of live instruction is a goal for the remote-learning plan, and what obstacles might be limiting live instruction to only 2 1/2 hours duration.

The letter announced that the Board of Education will have a Special Meeting on Thursday, July 30, 2020 at 7:00 p.m. at Ivy Hill Elementary School to provide additional details about the plan for the 2020-2021 school year.

The email message or minimally an alert about the message was not synchronized on either District 25’s Facebook account or Twitter account.




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COMPLETE LETTER FROM SUPT BEIN …

Monday, July 27, 2020

Dear Arlington Heights School District 25 Families:

During this very challenging time, school district plans continue to shift. Though there are school districts that have announced their plans for the 2020-2021 school year already, I know that many will need to adjust or even completely change their plans for various reasons. There is no perfect solution for how to provide in-person instruction while also providing a 100% guarantee of safety for all students and staff. The only thing that I know for certain is that plans will need to be flexible as there could be many changes throughout the school year.

District 25 will implement the following plans for the start of the 2020-2021 school year:

August 24 – August 31, 2020
Staff Work Days ONLY

Tuesday, September 1, 2020
1st Day of School for Students

Wednesday, June 9, 2021
Last Day of School for Students

Remote Instruction will be our delivery model for all students.

We will re-evaluate monthly with the goal of transitioning to Hybrid Instruction.

Remote instruction will include 5-hour instructional day for students in 1st through 8th grades with a goal of 2 1/2 hours of each day being live interaction between teachers and students. Early Childhood and Kindergarten students will have schedules similar to their typical instructional days of 2 1/2 hours with approximately half of that being live interaction between teachers and students.

Remote instruction will be robust and aligned to our grade level learning standard. Staff will be responsible for taking attendance and providing feedback on assignments as well as assigning grades for each subject area. Students will be responsible for participating in classwork and turning in assignments.

Students with special needs (Early Childhood, IEP, 504, EL programming) will receive teletherapy and some students may be brought on-site for some direct instruction and support services.

Extracurricular programs will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, but with no extracurriculars during the month of September.

***

Though survey data from our families showed that 49% preferred a Full In-Person model, 27% preferred a Hybrid model, and 25% preferred a Full Remote model, we feel forced to start remotely as a precautionary measure. Our goal is to work diligently towards a physical return to school in a Hybrid model.

I know this causes great difficulty for many of our families and staff. Together, we will provide a caring, impactful, and safe education experience for our students. I’m confident in our staff’s ability to be creative in the ways that they connect with your children. I am confident in the partnership we have with our parents, our PTA and the ABC25 Foundation, and the entire Arlington Heights community.

The Board of Education will have a Special Meeting on Thursday, July 30, 2020 at 7:00 p.m. at Ivy Hill Elementary School. The purpose of this meeting will be to hear additional details about the plan for the 2020-2021 school year. Board members will be meeting on-site, and welcome up to 35 community members to join us at Ivy Hill (to stay within the 50 maximum allowed capacity). The meeting will also be streamed online where up to 500 people can view the meeting. For those who cannot attend live or virtually, the meeting will be recorded and posted on our website at www.sd25.org/BoardBuzz.

Sincerely,

Lori D. Bein, Ed.D.
Superintendent