URBANA — After a year of going to school virtually, most families of Urbana students who simply don’t feel comfortable sending them back in person this fall will have to home-school for most of the day, except for specific circumstances, Superintendent Jennifer Ivory-Tatum said at Tuesday’s school board meeting.
Providing a virtual option isn’t possible after the Illinois State Board of Education decreed last month that all schools must return fully in person in the fall. But that doesn’t mean parents aren’t pushing for it.
“Over the past year, we’ve been very appreciative of the staff who provide distance-learning options,” Leal Elementary parent Johannes Frazier said during the public- comment portion of Tuesday’s meeting. “For the upcoming school year, we feel strongly because there is not a COVID-19 vaccine available for youth under the age of 12 that USD should offer virtual learning for students in this age group.”
Ivory-Tatum said the number of families requesting a virtual option has been low, and they would likely have to go through channels of home-bound learning that have always been available, including home-schooling.
“I’ve had a couple of students reach out at the middle school level, and we’re talking to them about the options that they could come for certain things and part of the day could be home-schooled,” Ivory- Tatum said. “We’ve had very few families reach out to us for that option.”
But, she said, “I think most are anxious for their kids to get back full time.”
Districts are only required to provide virtual learning for students who are both ineligible for the coronavirus vaccine and required to quarantine by a health department.
“I think the state is really encouraging anyone over the age of 12 to get the vaccine, so that is why they’re not pushing blended learning for middle and high school students,” Ivory-Tatum said. “I know there are some situations where students aren’t able to (get vaccinated) … but that is why the state is not making those blended options available, because those students could and should be vaccinated, hopefully.”