Oswego School District to limit remote learning for next school year

Students will be required to have approved medical or familial medical exemptions to participate

When the 2021-2022 school year begins for Oswego School District 308 students, only those students with approved medical exemptions or familial medical exemptions will be allowed to participate in remote learning.

A form included in student registration paperwork for the 2021-2022 school year on the district’s website states that “Student exemption from in-person attendance at school is based upon documented heightened medical risk to either a student or someone with whom a student lives, as related to COVID-19.”

Additional information included with the form explains that remote learning will only be available to students who qualify for an exemption. Students taking part in remote learning will be eligible to return to in-person learning only at the semester break for junior high and high school, or the trimester break for elementary school.

“The in-person assignment of students who are able to resume in-person learning at a semester or trimester break will be based on available classroom capacity,” the form reads. “It is possible that students might not be able to attend their home elementary school and transportation may not be available for the duration of the 2021-2022 school year.”

Not all classes at the secondary level will be available in remote learning.

To be considered for remote learning in the upcoming school year, a medical exemption request form signed by a medical provider must accompany a parent/guardian request, according to the form.

“Full details regarding the remote learning format will be shared with parents in mid-May, signed forms are due by June 1 (returned to District Health Services),” the form reads.

Theresa Komitas, director of communications and public relations for the district, said that the remote learning requirements will apply at all grade levels.

When asked how many students are expected to be covered by the requirements, Komitas said, “At this time the number of students who will be eligible and apply for remote is unknown, though it will likely be a dramatic decrease.”

In March, the Illinois State Board of Education issued guidance changing remote learning requirements from all students to those with a medical need or who live with someone who has a medical need.

“The district did not opt to begin that for the remainder of this year, but begin in the fall,” Komitas added.

Further details regarding the district’s mitigation plans for the 2021-2022 school year were not available, Komitas said, as the district is “awaiting specific guidance from ISBE/IDPH for next school year in order to provide any details regarding mitigation.”

The registration form again confirmed that the district’s plan is to have students and staff return to five days a week of in-person education in the fall.

Superintendent Dr. John Sparlin previously announced the plan, adding that school days will be a full day of in-person learning.

“We have begun the conversations on what does it look like, five days, full days. We’re talking about next year, but to be perfectly honest right now we’re focused on right here, right now,” Sparlin said during a March 2021 public forum.

Sparlin added that he and Associate Superintendent for Educational Services Faith Dahlquist had discussed the plan for the 2021-2022 school year that day, including what it would look like, who would be involved in those decisions, and when it will be presented to the Board of Education.

“Our goal is to get back to five days of in person learning next year,” he said.