To its credit, Danville’s school District 118 is asking for parents and students to express their preferences over returning to in-person learning after the long disruption brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Unfortunately, the district isn’t getting the kind of feedback it needs in order to make sound decisions and devise a plan for getting schools re-opened in a safe manner.
Return-to-school planning was a primary topic of discussion on Wednesday night during the District 118 board meeting. Superintendent Alicia Geddis told the board that only about 400 surveys had been completed by parents and students seeking information about students returning to school. Considering there are 6,000 students in the district, there’s a long way to go to get the kind of information needed.
At issue is getting students in fifth through 12th grade back into the classroom. In a large district such as Danville’s, that’s a lot of detailed planning.
The task may be daunting, but district officials continue to create a strategy that uses resources efficiently and allows for as many students to be in classrooms as is safely possible. Not every school building is the same or even has similar capacity to others. Such are the challenges to crafting a workable plan, especially when there is still no clear indications from parents and students what their particular preferences may be.
Danville High School, which graduates its 150th class this year, is a good example of the challenge. With 1,500 students and 300 staff members, the puzzle is large and complex. As we reported this week, classrooms normally hold 24-28 students, but with health safety standards setting six-feet distance guidelines, classrooms can only safely have half that number — 12-14 students.
“We can’t bring everyone back (yet),” Geddis told the School Board.
Buses, Geddis told the board, is another major issue. Drivers are hard to find, and alternative transportation options are costly.
Resolving these issues isn’t easy. Not getting adequate feedback and engagement from the student community makes it even harder.
So the message is simple. If you are a parent or student and have not yet responded to surveys, District 118 needs your help. Call your school counselor. Or visit the District 118 website for further instructions.
The goal is to get students back into classrooms as soon and as safely as possible. The information you provide will help school officials do so.