The Pandemic Is A ‘Community Health Issue’: Superintendent Abrell

PLAINFIELD, IL — The Plainfield School District 202 will assess the coronavirus situation throughout September and come to a decision regarding resuming in-person classes in October, Superintendent of Schools Lane Abrell said.

The district is also working as quickly as possible to bring students back into classrooms, starting with its most at-risk students who need more in-person adult support.

“We have about two weeks of remote learning under our belts and so far, it has gone fairly well, all things considered,” Abrell said in his monthly column. “Our teachers, support staff, administration, technology team, students and families have done an amazing job. Remote Learning in fall 2020 is indeed much better than it was last spring.”

Despite D202’s success with the e-learning model, parents and students are unhappy about the situation and are urging that schools reopen for classes. A large group gathered along Lincoln Highway on Monday, saying that remote learning causes more harm than the virus itself.

“As we have said from the start, we absolutely want to return to in-person learning. Students should be in school this time of year for all the obvious reasons – academics, social and emotional supports, student activities, fine arts, athletics, etc.,” Abrell said. “However, as we have also said from the start, we will not bring students and staff back until it is safe to do so.”

In order to ensure safety, the district will continue to monitor the following:

  • The Will and Kendall County COVID-19 metrics
  • Guidance from local, state, and national health agencies
  • The numbers of available teaching and support staff
  • The numbers of available substitute teachers
  • The availability of personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Safety equipment supply chain issues
  • Community, staff, and student input

Abrell said that while remote learning is not optimal, it is the “best available solution under the circumstances.”

“My head swims and my heart breaks just thinking about how hard this is for so many in our community,” he said. “Yet, that is the key point here is while this pandemic affects us individually and our local school district, it is not an individual issue. Nor is it a ‘school opening’ issue. It is a community health issue. We must respond to it as such. That includes strictly adhering to the health guidelines or risk the health of our students and staff.”

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