The McHenry Elementary School District 15 board has voted to begin the school year with remote learning, changing course from a hybrid model it planned less than two weeks ago.
Students in the district will now start the year with remote learning Aug. 24 and go through Nov. 6, the first trimester of school. The timeline could be shortened or extended based on public health conditions and guidance from authorities, according to a post on the district's website.
District 15 had tentatively planned to use a hybrid model when the year began, while also giving the option for families to choose remote learning. Current public health conditions posed too significant of a risk to the health and safety of students and staff, the district wrote in a post to families.
"In many ways, this is a heartbreaking decision as all of us want nothing more than to see our students and resume the normal school experience that we all love so much," according to the post. "However, it's clear that there is nothing normal about this year.
"After careful analysis and deliberation, it was determined that returning in-person, even with a hybrid schedule, posed too significant of a risk to the health and safety of students and staff. Public health conditions indicate that resuming in-person learning is not the wisest decision at this time."
Some families had concerns about the health and safety of their children, according to the post.
"We know that this news will be met with relief from many of our families who have reached out to us with legitimate concerns about the health and safety of their children," according to the post. "We are also aware that this will be met with disappointment and questions about how families will navigate this school year.
"Please know that these challenges are recognized and we will maximize our resources and collective talents to support you and your children in this remote environment that is our new reality.
McHenry High School District 156, which released a return to school plan with alternating days of in-person and remote learning on July 17, said in a Facebook post Friday that it is monitoring and evaluating the changing conditions, including District 15's switch to remote learning, and will provide an update to its plan on Monday.
Algonquin-based Community School District 300, Prairie Grove District 46 and Huntley School District 158 also recently decided to reverse course on their original plans and start the year with remote learning.
Harvard School District 50 announced Friday that it will start the year with remote learning after multiple staff members tested positive for COVID-19.
District 15 operates eight elementary schools throughout McHenry, which includes Chauncey H. Duker School, Edgebrook Elementary School, Hilltop Elementary School, Landmark Elementary School, McHenry Middle School, Parkland School, Riverwood Elementary School and Valley View Elementary School.