RANTOUL — In response to the coronavirus pandemic, Illinois educators are “being told to prepare for everything but not finalize anything,” Rantoul City Schools Superintendent Michelle Ramage told the school board.
Preparation for the 2020-21 school year is perhaps the most unique in history, just as the last three months of the recently completed school year was.
Will there be in-person learning, remote learning or a combination of both? It can make a school administrator cross-eyed.
Ramage said the Illinois State Board of Education has released guidance for a safer transition back to in-person learning in the fall “to the greatest extent possible while realizing this might not be possible in all situations.”
In planning for blended remote-learning days that would allow a combo of in-person and internet-based learning, ISBE said schools should use plans that “consider equity and priorities in-person learning for students with greater needs.”
Three scenarios are under consideration.
In one, students would return to school but would maintain 6-foot social distancing. There’s one problem with that. Due to the size of classrooms at RCS, only 10 or fewer students would be able to be present at a time. All students and staff would be required to wear a mask.
“So all students probably wouldn’t attend all day,” Ramage said. “This would be like an A-day and a B-day type situation.”
What that would mean has not been determined yet, but it would involve splitting students up in some fashion since not all can fit into a classroom at once.
The second scenario involves all students continuing remote learning at home “due to intermittent stay-at-home orders.”
Ramage said remote learning would be different than in the spring.
“We are working on details, which includes devices, interconnectivity and improved instruction,” she said. “We didn’t have much time to plan (remote learning) in the spring. RCS staff did an amazing job with the tools and time at hand.”
Board member Joan Fitzgarrald said she recently finished teaching two students online and said it was not easy.
“I feel for the teachers that had to do that,” Fitzgarrald said. “It’s tougher than standing in a classroom teaching, and it takes a lot of planning. I wish them the best, no matter what happens.”
The third scenario is the blended version — a combination of in-person and online instruction.
“Some families are concerned about sending kids back, whether for medical reasons or whatever. We need to listen to those families,” Ramage said.
“We will prepare for every situation that we can think of.”