District 202 leaders address remote reopening concerns at town hall

Evanston+Township+High+School%2C+1600+Dodge+Ave.+Students+will+start+the+school+year+with+remote+classes+until+further+notice.

Daily file photo by Colin Boyle

Evanston Township High School, 1600 Dodge Ave. Students will start the school year with remote classes until further notice.

Sneha Dey, Summer Managing Editor

“Enhanced E-Learning,” the district’s remote reopening plan, will not be a continuation of the spring, Evanston Township High School administrators said at a virtual town hall Wednesday. Families can expect increased mental health support, a return to ABC grading and standardized learning platform, among other changes.

Evanston Township High School/District 202 will start the school year with remote classes and will not implement hybrid classes. The plan reversed a timeline previously announced at a board meeting, where the district said hybrid learning was set to begin in early September.

“We could not commit to that (timeline). This nation is on fire right now,” D202 Superintendent Eric Witherspoon said. “Caution is the word of the day.”

Teachers are already gearing up for the fall through a Summer E-Learning Academy, which helps develop remote instruction skills through Google Classroom, the same learning platform students will use in the fall.

The district plans to integrate social emotional learning into an e-learning environment. In the fall, students will receive support in the virtual classroom from not only teachers, but also psychologists, counselors, deans and truancy officers, Associate Principal for Student Services Taya Kinzie said.

Each class period must have an element of live instruction. Classes will depend on feedback from families, and there will be a return to ABC grading. Students cannot request a change in course levels or preferences, even though a hybrid learning option will no longer be offered.

Pete Bavis, the assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, has previously said the district found asynchronous learning to be unsuccessful in the spring.

“Our teachers have worked extraordinarily hard all summer. We continue to learn and develop and evolve,” said Bavis. “In those enhanced e-learning, we can build community and we will build community… We can recapture what it means to be a Wildkit.”

For students with disabilities with individualized education programs, case managers will create individualized remote plans. Accommodations provided to students with disabilities will remain in place, and can be adjusted for the nature of remote instruction, if needed.

The district plans to transition to a hybrid learning model at a later date, when conditions allow. Witherspoon said the district will need to assess the risk of transmission to determine when to transition to hybrid learning.

The hybrid model outlined at the June 13 board meeting divides students into groups A, B, C and D. When students return to the school building, Witherspoon emphasized ETHS “will not be the school we want it to be.” Students should expect cold lunches and empty hallways, along with mandatory mask-wearing and self-certification.

“Whether you’re teachers or staff, whether you’re parents, whether you’re students..I can’t even imagine all the emotions all of you have gone through,” Witherspoon said. “The very things that we do that enrich our lives… and make the Wildkit experience… they’re not going to happen.”

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