Frequently Asked Questions: Part One

Why did the district choose to extend remote learning from Dec. 4 to 18?

The Kane County Health Department suggested a two-week adaptive pause from  Monday, Nov. 23 to Friday, Dec. 4. D303 schools were on break the week of Nov. 23. D303 decided to extend remote learning for all students from Nov. 30 to Dec. 18. 

The first reason the decision was made to extend the adaptive pause until second semester in order to avoid the uncertainty of the changing schedule from last spring. 

“When the board members started talking about [the adaptive pause], one of the things that they really brought up was how disruptive the remote learning process was in the spring…And so [last spring], we kept sending messages to parents saying, ‘it’s got to be longer.’ ‘It’s got to be longer.’ And, it was very disruptive for families, especially families who have little children, and they had to find childcare so that the parents could work,” said Carol Smith, D303 Director of Communications and Community Relations.

“The board is very cognizant of what parents had to go through last spring and wanted to make sure that that didn’t happen again,” said Smith.

Another reason is that cases aren’t going down, and with the Thanksgiving holiday, people would be gathering.

“We knew that once people were going to be traveling, and you’ve seen this on the news, the airports were full, people were having gatherings over Thanksgiving break. And we expect that there’s going to be another surge later this week or early next week, and the board really felt that it could be possible for the county health department…or the governor, to extend that adaptive pause,” said Smith.

Smith summarized the two reasons.

“They felt that they wanted to be proactive, by extending it through winter break, to provide a couple of things: number one, to give families the opportunity to plan. And number two, to kind of be ahead of that surge that may happen.”

What is the plan for second semester, which begins on Jan. 5?

The “current plan,” according to the D303 Director of Communications and Community Relations, Carol Smith is that elementary school students will attend school from 8:00 to 1:40 daily. Hybrid middle school students and remote middle school students will alternate attending classes from 9:15 to 2:25 and 8:30 to 1:40. High school students will attend from 7:20 to 12:15 from Tuesday to Friday with remote Mondays from 7:20 to 2:30. 

“As of right now, if we can return safely, and the Kane County Health Department has not provided us any additional guidance on that, our plan is to return to what we were doing on January 5,” said Carol Smith, D303 Director of Communications and Community Relations. 

The statistics of remote learning and hybrid learning

Before the start of the year, families were sent a survey asking which modality they preferred, hybrid/in-person or remote. In November, families were sent a similar survey for the second semester. 

There are currently 2,004 students enrolled at St. Charles North; however, the numbers Renee Reynolds, Assistant Principal of Curriculum and Instruction, presented are based on how many students initially responded to the survey and what they choose. Only 1,941 students responded to the second-semester survey. Her numbers are based on the 1,941 figure.

For the first semester, 538 students were full remote which equates to 27.7%. North had 1,403 in-person students which is 72.3%. 

Looking ahead to the second semester, “The [number of] remote [students] went up, actually–slightly, not significant. So second semester, we had 558 [students] indicate they’re going full remote, the 28.7%, and in person, we have 1,383 [students] or 71.3%. And really the difference was it’s the change of 1.03% in modality, 20 students,” said Reynolds. 

Again, these numbers are based on the number of responses the survey received not the exact student population. They also reflect what people initially selected on the survey; the numbers don’t account for students switching from hybrid to remote.

She also said that there was no significant trend in a certain grade level picking one option over the other, and that “it’s pretty consistent across the board.”

Reynolds said that there were two commonly cited reasons for why families elected to switch from hybrid to remote. 

“Some of the reasons we heard was because the students came to in-person [learning] and they realized that it wasn’t what they expected in terms of teacher interaction or instructional practices and strategies, and they felt like they kind of had a grasp on what was happening remotely. And since they weren’t getting the traditional type of teaching that they were accustomed to the year before, they were just going to stay at home and continue in a model that they were more familiar with.”  

“Other families elected to go remote because of an increase in the number of COVID cases throughout the community and they just didn’t want to expose other family members or potentially grandparents, so that was a choice they made. And those were the two primary reasons that we were hearing from families,” said Reynolds.

What are the plans surrounding the vaccine?

“We take our guidance from the Illinois Department of Public Health as far as vaccines go. So we’ve had some parents that have asked us, are you gonna mandate the vaccines? And the answer is that we don’t mandate them. It’s the state of Illinois that does that,” said Carol Smith, D303 Director of Communications and Community Relations.

The state of Illinois must be in stage 5, the final stage, for normal school to start again.

What are sites that D303 has purchased for remote learning

Nearpod, Edpuzzle, Flocabulary, Classkick, Zoom, Google Meets, Adobe Spark, and Padlet Backpack are all sites D303 has purchased at a premium or upgraded level

Where can I find instructions for the new sites?

This Google site has tech support resources. D303 also has a Youtube channel with technology instruction videos.

How do overall student grades compare this year to those of past “normal” years?

Reynolds also said that there has been no significant dip in overall grades. 

“We have not seen any difference in student learning, meaning grades haven’t dropped from what they were last year maybe at the same time. So, students are still maintaining their learning,” said Reynolds.