Richmond-Burton Community High School District 157 and Nippersink School District 2 Superintendent Thomas Lind
Richmond-Burton Community High School District 157 and Nippersink School District 2 Superintendent Thomas Lind

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Citing “too many unknowns” about the upcoming school year, Richmond-Burton Community High School District 157 and Nippersink School District 2 will conduct their first quarters remotely, Superintendent Tom Lind said in a letter Thursday.

Days after the district released its fall reopening plan, the Illinois State Board of Education released an updated document with new guidelines. The Illinois Department of Public Health also continues to modify its guidelines for schools.

“We know that these agencies are doing their best related to the continually changing information,” Lind wrote in a letter to families. “However, it has simply become clear that there are too many unknowns about this highly contagious, deadly virus to have full confidence to reopen safely.”

In his letter, Lind mentioned new quarantine guidelines that would create a major disruption to the school day, along with an increase in the rate of infections in McHenry County, as reasons for the decision to go fully remote.

Lind also said the district would push back its start date to Aug. 24.

“This will give administrators and teachers time to prepare and educate parents and students on remote learning expectations,” Lind said in the letter, adding that remote learning at both districts will look and feel completely different from the way it did in the spring.

“In addition to planning for a return to school, both districts’ staff have been working to improve the instructional delivery during remote learning,” he said. “There will be an increased focus on ensuring daily virtual connections are made with teachers and students in class and in small groups. In addition, we will be working to provide parents with greater support to help their student[s]

Lind said more information on the remote learning plan will be forthcoming from both districts and school principals early next week.

“Please know both boards of education, administration and our joint task force did not come to this decision lightly,” Lind said. “We have studied every potential scenario and option that would let our students return for in-person learning. Understanding the weight of this decision and the significant impact on our families is always foremost in our minds.

“Unfortunately, any scenario or option we considered would have been insufficient to bring us to an acceptable level of compliance with health guidelines. We will continually reassess the conditions associated with this pandemic to determine when we can reopen partially or fully in the future.”

Alden-Hebron School District 19 also announced Thursday its decision to start remotely after much deliberation with administration, the ISBE, the McHenry County Department of Health, other districts and the district planning committee, according to a letter to families.

“This was a difficult decision,” district administration said in the letter. “However, we feel that it is in the best interest of our students and staff’s health and safety.”

Other area school districts that recently have made the decision to begin the 2020-21 school year remotely include Woodstock School District 200, Crystal Lake-based Community High School District 155, Algonquin-based Community School District 300, Huntley School District 158 and Prairie Grove School District 46.

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