FREEPORT (WREX) — Students will return to the classroom this fall with special guidelines due to COVID-19. Freeport School District 145 is discussing what the school year could look like for its students.
Back to school season has started early for Freeport public schools.
"We are not going back to a normal, the way it used to be," said Freeport School District 145 Superintendent Dr. Anna Alvarado.
The school board held a special meeting after the Illinois Department of Public Health released guidelines for the start of the year. Those guidelines are what Dr. Alvarado says are the foundation of its re-entry plan.
"Students that are under [the age of] 13, based on the guidelines, will be able to have in-person instruction daily. That's from Monday to Friday. Seventh to twelfth graders will be coming in on an A/B schedule. So it will be a blended remote instruction for older children," said Dr. Alvarado.
The district superintendent says younger children struggled the most with online learning. While older students caught on, she says the district wants to support all students this fall.
"Students that are only in school physically twice a week are still able to have proper nutrition provided to them," said Dr. Alvarado.
The district says in a survey most teachers, faculty and parents felt somewhat comfortable returning. But for those who are not or can't, the schools can accommodate.
"It's going to be self-contained with one teacher. What we are going to be minimizing is students switching classrooms throughout the day. So the students will be in their classrooms, their desks will be spread apart," said Dr. Alvarado.
Discussing possible solutions for COVID-19 obstacles.
"So that anytime the governor pulls the plug and we have more cases, our district starts to spike, that we are able to shift easily to remotely learning completely," said Dr. Alvarado.
Superintendent Alvarado says a more detailed back to school document will be released to the public. That's if the school board approves it. That is expected to happen on July 15.
The Board of Education meeting comes on the heels of a statement made by the American Academy of Pediatrics. The national group says the risks of not going back to school this fall are more severe.
The AAP said this week that it's in favor of in-person learning.
The group says being in school is fundamental to child development and remote learning could result in learning loss.
Medical professionals at SwedishAmerican agree. A pediatrician says going back to school gets children back into real world scenarios where they learn from situations around them.
"Because now they are so dependent so that's stunting their emotional growth. It's better if you're out in the real world with people that are strangers. It's not just your mom or your grandma, whom you feel comfortable. It's dealing with real world things," said SwedishAmerican General Pediatrics Dr. William Renk.
SwedishAmerican says taking a few small steps at a time will better prepare children to continue into phase four and beyond.