ST. CHARLES – St. Charles School Dist. 303 has found a place to store furniture that had to be removed from elementary school classrooms to promote social distancing during the pandemic.
The equipment will be stored in the former Sears store in the largely vacant Charlestowne Mall – now known as The Quad – on the city's east side at a cost of $1,500 a month. The furniture is currently being stored in gymnasiums.
As the district prepares for a return to in-person learning and with the arrival of colder weather, it needs to find a place to store the furniture to accommodate indoor physical education. In light of the recent surge of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, the Kane County Health Department has asked all Kane County school districts to move to full remote learning until at least Dec. 4 and that athletics and other school activities also be suspended as well.
Dist. 303 school board members decided on an option for students to participate in full remote instruction from Nov. 30 through Dec. 18. Students will be on winter break starting Dec. 21 and school will be back in session on Jan. 5.
"We went to a few Realtors and we tried to find out if there was any space anywhere in St. Charles," John Baird, the district's assistant superintendent for operations, told St. Charles school board members during the board's business services committee meeting on Monday. "And we looked for several weeks."
Baird said he found out about the space available at The Quad through a security guard at the mall who is a Ferson Creek Elementary School parent. The space is climate controlled.
"We do have an opportunity and I think it will help our children to be able to utilize those spaces in inclement weather," he said. "We're given these challenges and it just gives us another opportunity."
The contract could be terminated at any time, Baird said. The owners of other potential spaces were asking for one or two-year leases, he said.
"They were very willing to help out," Baird said, in talking about the owners of The Quad.
St. Charles School Board Vice-President Carolyn Waibel and other board members thought the proposal was a good idea.
"It is a cheap and safe way to store our stuff during the pandemic," she said.