St. Charles North Moves To Fully Remote Learning

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Addie Grimm

A student's home set up for remote learning.

Bridget Nelis, Opinions Editor

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed many things in our lives. One of the things that has changed the most is school. 

On August 10th, District 303 released a Revised Reopening School Plan. Under the new plan, students in grades kindergarten-fifth grade go to school every day with a shortened schedule. Sixth-eighth grade students go to school on an A/B schedule with half of the kids going on A days and the other half going on B days. At the high school level, District 303 decided to go full remote learning through quarter one. 

In the new Revised Reopening School Plan, high school students meet with their teachers under a new schedule and calendar. Once every week, usually on Monday, students attend all of their classes on a Full Day schedule. Each class is 30 minutes long with 10 minute breaks in between each class. In between periods five and six, every student gets a 30 minute lunch break. School starts at 8:20 and ends at 2:00 on these days. 

The rest of the week is on a block schedule. Tuesdays and Thursdays are considered Odd Days. On those days, students attend only their first, third, fifth, and seventh period classes. Wednesdays and Fridays are considered Even Days. On those days, students attend only their second, fourth, sixth, and eighth period classes. Each class period is 75 minutes long with 15 minutes in between each class and a 30 minute lunch break in the middle of the day. Classes start at 8:30 and end at 2:30. On Odd/Even days, teachers are available from 7:20 to 8:15 to assist students with any issues in their classes that they may be having. 

The remote learning plan is an adjustment, but many feel it has its benefits. Being remote has kept the students and staff of St. Charles North High School safer and healthier. The level of risk of catching COVID-19 was high because of how many students attended the school daily. 

“The amount of people I encounter, as well as the students in my class, then leave and go to seven other periods. And so when you look at a chain of events like how many people you’re exposed to… being remote is probably safest for students and staff,” said Sarah Scheifele, math teacher. 

Another benefit of remote learning is that remote learning prepares students for life once they leave school and are on their own. Remote learning is an opportunity to teach students new ways of dealing with situations. 

“I think having these Zoom classes is a way for kids to learn how they interact with people, how they connect with people, how they are in a meeting, which obviously is your class, how they turn in work, how they manage their time…. I think it could be really positive in the end that students learn all of these new life skills,” said Stephanie Dodd, art teacher.

However, there are some concerns that come with remote learning. There are concerns that students will not get the full experience that they would have received in a traditional classroom. Teachers have had to adapt activities and curriculum to make it work through a virtual means. Hands-on courses have had to change to provide new ways to ensure that the students are learning. 

“Culinary or Autos or Project Lead the Way, in those realms or even in science, not being able to have that true experience of using the equipment and practicing some of those skills.” said Renee Reynolds, Assistant Principal, Instructional Programs. “Yes, you can do it virtually, but it’s still not the same.” 

Another concern that teachers have is students not having their camera on and their internet not working properly. Teachers are concerned about students learning if their internet connection isn’t strong enough to connect to class every day. 

“There’s also been a lot of technical difficulties and everything is really slow and glitchy,” said Ella Melei, junior.

Other kids are not turning on their camera, because they do not have an internet connection which is strong enough.

“And some people, they were not turning it on because they didn’t want to, but because their internet connection wasn’t strong enough to stream video and stream the audio and stream the class,” said Dodd.

Although high school students are fully remote learning right now, there is hope in the future that students may be allowed to return to school in small groups for certain classes. 

“So maybe in science, where there’s labs, or woodworking, or possibly even some of the art classes, you know, and bringing small groups, maybe starting with the upper level and having them come in and use the equipment and get some of that more small group instruction that gives us a chance to see how things work before we start bringing in more student,” said Reynolds.

This decision probably would not take place until after Labor Day. The decision will be determined based on where the state is in terms of COVID-19 cases and where District 303 is with the Illinois Department of Public Health.