Palatine Dist. 15 moving to remote learning through end of year
Citing growing health concerns among students' families and school staff, Palatine Township Elementary District 15 will switch to exclusively remote learning beginning Wednesday and lasting through at least winter break.
The announcement Sunday night by Superintendent Laurie Heinz also noted the Cook County Department of Public Health's stay-at-home advisory issued Friday due to rising COVID-19 cases in the region. The advisory recommends suburban residents remain home as much as possible, limit travel and avoid gatherings.
The decision comes less than a week after the officials announced they would move to virtual learning for the week after Thanksgiving break and then return to in-person classes until winter break. Under the new plan, in-person classes will not resume until Jan. 5 at the earliest.
"In light of this advisory going into effect, we have heard from many staff members and parents that do not feel safe remaining in school during this stay at home advisory period," Heinz wrote. "Although we have worked hard on our ongoing mitigation efforts, sharply rising community numbers and the county's attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19 are what prompted this advisory to be implemented and for us to reconsider our plan."
Heinz wrote that district officials surveyed staff over the weekend to ask if they believe students should learn remotely in light of the Cook County advisory. Nearly 80% responded "yes," she wrote.
"Our staff has worked hard during this trying time, and they are becoming increasingly concerned for their own safety due to the recent surge in positivity rates and health department advisory," she added.
Heinz wrote that materials will be sent home with students Monday and/or Tuesday to prepare for remote learning. Most staff also will work from home unless they choose to teach or work from their classroom or office spaces.
"I know this decision will come with mixed feedback from our parents, staff and the larger community, with some in support of the plan and others against it," Heinz wrote. "I certainly understand the challenges that working parents will face who rely on our schools for child care and the overall stressors of fully remote learning. Navigating educational plans during the ups and downs of this pandemic has come with no 'right' answers or perfect solutions. In the end, I have to make decisions based upon the health and safety of everyone in our buildings, both students and adults."
District 15 educates nearly 12,000 students from all or parts of Palatine, Rolling Meadows, Hoffman Estates, Inverness, South Barrington, Arlington Heights and Schaumburg, at 15 elementary schools, four junior highs, a preschool early childhood center and an alternative public day school.