FILE PHOTO: Oswego School District 308 Superintendent Dr. John Sparlin
FILE PHOTO: Oswego School District 308 Superintendent Dr. John Sparlin

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STORY UPDATED AT 2:45 P.M. SATURDAY, AUG. 1

Oswego School District 308 Superintendent Dr. John Sparlin will recommend to the Board of Education Monday evening, Aug. 3, the district begin the 2020-2021 school year with remote instruction only.

In a news release sent to the Ledger Saturday, Sparlin said, "On Monday night, I am recommending to the Board of Education that SD 308 begin the school year with our Remote For All plan. This is an extremely difficult decision that was reached based on many considerations."

Sparlin continued, "I fully understand that this might be welcomed news for many of our families as well as disappointing to others. Our work moving forward will be to develop a plan that can be flexible and responsive to the changing conditions of the pandemic with our ultimate goal of returning to full in-person instruction. The detailed reasoning of this decision will be presented at Monday night’s meeting."

Sparlin does not need the Board's approval to implement his remote learning recommendation. Under a resolution adopted by the Board last April, Sparlin can keep all school buildings and district facilities closed during the COVID-19 pandemic "until such time as the Superintendent, in consultation with the appropriate local, state and federal health and government authorities, deems it is in the best interest of the district and its students to open schools."

Sparlin said that "more than anything he wishes the district's 18,000 students would start the year in their classes, "learning from teachers, surrounded by classmates. The district operates 21 schools.

However, he said he can’t overlook the significant health concerns of in-person learning at this time.

"Over the last week, new guidelines from the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), county health departments and other health organizations, as well as rising positivity rates of COVID-19 in our area, have caused us to conclude that reopening schools at this time is not attainable,

"I understand that this announcement brings about many questions, which is why we will work quickly, following Monday night’s meeting, to provide a guide, FAQ, and updates to our webpage.

"The first day of fully remote learning will be announced soon. I encourage you to watch the live stream of our board meeting on Monday evening at 7 p.m., the link will be included on the homepage of our website www.sd308.org

"In closing, it is important to emphasize that our remote learning plan for the beginning of the 20-21 school year will look very different than what was done in March with much more real time interaction with teachers. We are committed to providing the best learning opportunities for our students academically along with meeting the social and emotional needs of our students. We will also continue to ensure that our students basic needs such as food and resources are met."Sparlin concluded: "Thank you for your continued support as we work together to educate our students in the safest way possible."

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