LAKE FOREST, Ill. (CBS) — Teachers in one Lake Forest school district are concerned about rising COVID-19 case numbers, and they plan on asking the school board to abandon its hybrid learning for an all-remote plan.
As CBS 2 Political Investigator Dana Kozlov reported Monday, the head of the Lake Forest Education Association said three fourths of the district’s teachers want to go all-remote. But the school board thus far has held firm.
The Illinois Attorney General has also now gotten involved.
The number of COVID-19 cases in Lake County is going up, along with the number of Lake Forest High School students heading back into the classroom. Freshmen, sophomores, and juniors have already been in class two days a week, and now seniors are returning to learn in District 115’s hybrid setting – which teachers find troubling.
“And now it’s at the point where the science is saying that we should be virtual again, and they say the community wants to remain open,” said Becca Schwartz, president of the Lake Forest Education Association.
Schwartz said the union has been pushing for an all-remote semester for months. Even District 115’s superintendent and other administrators backed that plan this summer.
But the board said no.
The LFEA even filed an Open Meetings Act complaint with the Illinois Attorney General’s office in October, claiming the school board reaffirmed that decision as a hastily and illegally called board meeting there weeks ago.
The Attorney General’s office sent board President David Lane a response stating, “We have determined further action is warranted.”
“It just feels like it was not an honest act, and we would like to know, kind of when is enough enough?” Schwartz said.
Teachers’ representatives have also sent a letter to the board and administrators, believing the district could be held liable if any teachers get sick. Schools that are kept open could be considered negligent actions.
Schwartz said she knows social-emotional interaction is important, and acknowledged the community wants kids in class. But she believes health and safety need to come first.
“I feel like what they’re doing is just going to hurt the relationship moving forward,” she said.
The virtual school board meeting was held on Monday evening, and teachers spoke up. But board members decided they will listen to the superintendent’s recommendations going forward.
Lane said the district cares very much about student and staff safety and has put many measures in place to protect students and staff, including hiring extra cleaning crews and buying air sanitizers.
He also says the district is cooperating with the Illinois Attorney General and will be sending a response about the alleged Open Meetings violation this week.
As to the teachers’ claims that the district could be liable if anyone gets sick from this point on, the board blasted the claim – calling it reckless and irresponsible and saying it is not legally sound.
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