Wilmington 209-U urges parents to take final back to school survey


New guidelines issued this week from the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) on re-opening plans for all state public schools mean changes may be imminent for the Wilmington 209-U School District.

Until this week, the district had been working on a plan that would bring all students back to the classroom when classes are set to resume on Aug. 17. That plan, which would have allowed remote learning only for those students who had a medical exemption, will now be reevaluated, as the announced in its latest guidance that all schools must create plans that include in-person, blended, and remote learning protocols.

In a message to parents and families on Friday, 209-U Superintendent Dr. Matt Swick said that in light of the new mandates from the state, the district is working to be as thorough as possible before releasing final plans.

"We are well aware of the importance for a timely sharing of final details, as the new school year is just a few weeks away. However, we also must make sure to be as thoughtful as possible, always striving to focus on health and well-being above all else, while also clearly understanding the perspectives, needs and concerns of our students, families and staff," Swick wrote. "Our hope is to continue over the next few days to gain a full and accurate understanding of this new guidance from the State, while also actively monitoring our local health status and following all recommended response protocols.

The state guidance issued on Thursday states that districts should create "a flexible learning framework to implement as we recover from the COVID-19 public health emergency. This framework will include a locally determined mixture of in-person, remote, and blended learning, depending on school capacities and individual student needs. At the core of all considerations is the goal of maximizing student learning while ensuring equity for all students during the 2020-21 school year and beyond."

Swick asked families to participate in a final survey as the district prepares for the new year, with a final plan expected to be released early next week. 

"There have not yet been any decisions made to adjust our goal of returning students to in-person instruction beginning on Aug. 17,  However, the situation seems to be constantly evolving, sometimes on a daily basis," Swick wrote.

"It is our hope to announce final plans to everyone ASAP, but we need your help first by completing this short and simple survey providing some final feedback for consideration. Please take note that if we were to need to move into full e-learning mode at the beginning of the year, or at any other time throughout the year, our hope would be to provide in-person support and access to staff and resources for individual and small groups of students, as needed whenever possible."

The survey can be found at https://forms.gle/4tx5LUszrySgVr4o7

Swick noted in his letter home that the district's recent medical challenges with COVID-19 have also be part of the district's plans to do more planning and researching prior to releasing the final plan. On Thursday, Swick announce that he had contracted COVID-19, as had a member of the district's custodial staff.