ST. CHARLES – Half of Dist. 303's high school students could return to the classroom by Oct. 19 as part of a plan being brought forth by the district.

The plan was discussed at the School Board's Learning and Teaching Committee meeting on Monday following a rally calling for high school students to return to the classroom. St. Charles East and North high schools have begun the school year with remote learning.

Elementary school students are 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.

During the Sept. 14 School Board meeting, several board members voiced their desire to see students get back to in-person learning as soon as possible.

"I think we have their attention," said District 303 parent Shannon Sullivan, who has been organizing the rallies. "And I think it's just about executing a plan that is safe for all of us. It can be done. If there is a will, there is a way."

As proposed, up to 25% of the high school population would receive a blend of in-person and remote learning starting in October, moving up to 50% of the students by Oct. 19. All students would do remote learning on Mondays, followed by a blend of in-person and remote learning the rest of the week.

Several health and safety guidelines would be put in place, 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 said.

The district on Wednesday will send questionnaires to high school families on Wednesday asking if they prefer in-person or remote learning. Families were asked that same question in July.

"We are under the belief that some families will have changed their minds by now," Assistant Superintendent Mark Moore said in addressing School Board members.

They will need to respond by Sept. 30. The district plans to reach out to those who haven't responded.

In order to implement the plan, the district needs to spend approximately $322,500 on video conferencing cameras and white board cameras and spend an additional $300,000 on personnel, specifically, classroom assistants.

Board member Michael Bryant said he was concerned in part that the district might not receive the additional technology until early November at the earliest.

"This feels like it is not ready to go," he said.

Board member Edward McNally disagreed.

"I would like to get back to as close as normal as soon as possible," he said. "I don’t know if we could come up with something better by waiting."

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