Chicago suburban school districts returning to in-person learning amid statewide rise in COVID-19

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ALGONQUIN, Ill. — Several school districts in the northwest suburbs began a phased in approach to in-person learning Monday.

In District 300, 78% of elementary parents surveyed opted for in-person learning with the remainder staying fully remote.

District 300 encompassed Algonquin, Sleepy Hollow, Carpentersville, Dundee, Hampshire and Gilberts. It is the sixth largest school district in the state.

Getting kids back in the classroom wasn’t easy.

Fred Heid is District 300’s superintendent.

“It’s everything from staffing and re-staffing, modifying students schedules, installing plexiglass screens on students desks,” he said. “Making sure hand sanitizing stations are installed in every classroom regardless of whether they have a sink or not.:

Students in kindergarten through 3rd grade attend school Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. – 1 p.m. and are remote on Fridays.

In neighboring Huntley, Community District 158 also went back to in person learning Monday with a hybrid plan for elementary students only. Students go to school two half-days a week in the morning.

Barrington District 220 started Monday with a similar half-day in person plan for elementary but full day for middle and high school with students divided in an A and B group.

Schaumburg District 54 returned with students in Kindergarten through 8th grade attending two full days a week.

As more schools in the area return to in-person, COVID-19 case numbers are on the rise in both Kane and McHenry counties.

 “I think it makes us very nervous,” Heid said. “We have been very intentional in messaging to parents that this our plan but it can change in an instant.”

With 4th and 5th grade set to return in two weeks, parents wonder and worry how long in person instruction will last.

Emilie Valentino is a parent of a student in District 300.

“I was extremely nervous but that’s just my own issues. (My son) was very excited. He has always wanted to go back,”I’ve definitely been honest with them. I’m not in control of it and we have to go with the flow. I think kids are adapting way better than adults are.”

Heid said he is keeping a close eye on several different health metrics, most importantly case count, positivity rate, and hospitalizations. He said he would make decisions to move schools back to full remote individually by zip code since it’s such a geographically large district.

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