By Steven Graves

(CBS) — New federal guidelines are encouraging in person learning, but that comes as yet another Chicago-area school district flip flops back to remote learning for the fall.

CBS 2’s Steven Graves spoke with school leaders about what’s behind their decisions.

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This coming school year, Woodland Intermediate educators Kerry Rejczyk and her husband, Joe, will be meeting their students virtually.

“I’m happy it will go this way for safety for everybody.” said Joe, a physical education teacher for the District 50 school in Gurnee.

“Our PE team was texting all last night. There were already some go getters who wanted meet virtually and talking about what August is going to look like.”

The school district made the decision to extend online learning to October, using a system that school leaders say has improved since the statewide shutdowns in the spring.

For example, there is more virtual community building for the 5,500 students and 800 staff affected. Teachers also have the option of going live from their classrooms.

“We’ve been doing everything we can to bring back students in person to the best of our ability and we’ll do that when we know that it is safe,”said District 50 Supt. Lori Casey

It comes as the latest Centers for Disease Control report urges in-person learning, claiming COVID-19 poses low risks to school-aged children, especially is safety precautions are present.

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But Casey says exploring in-person options proved tough.

“We were spending all of our time planning for contact tracing and ensuring everybody is safe. We weren’t spending our time on how to provide the best educational opportunity for our students.”

In Chicago, the public schools plan includes a mix of at in-person and virtual learning.

“I want parents and students to know that any plan we put in place will be guided by the science,” said CPS CEO Janice Jackson.

Kerry Rejczyk said remote learning will be tough for parents, but “they do need to really try to get that little space for them somewhere, whether it’s on their bed in the bedroom or their desk.”

Each Woodland student will get electronics and Wi-Fi if needed. Chicago Public Schools does the same.



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