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Archive for the ‘Topics Of Interest’ Category

Ellie Luciano adjusts her backpack while keeping a physical distance form her peers at Wiesbrook Elementary in Wheaton

A bellwether for school reopening efforts in the pandemic, elementary classrooms in Wheaton Warrenville Unit District 200 welcomed back students two weeks ago for the first time in more than 170 days.

As of Tuesday, the district has reported at least four students and one employee have tested positive for the coronavirus. But the district hasn’t identified any close contacts with those cases across the 13 elementary schools. Administrators credit physical distancing measures for helping to thwart the spread of the virus.

After months of enormous challenges preparing for an in-person start, the district still faces the complicated task of keeping the doors open in elementary schools. It’s also one of the major suburban districts pushing for at least a mix of face-to-face and virtual learning for middle and high school students.

Elmhurst Unit District 205 is providing another template, gradually sending students back to schools. On Monday, elementary students moved to a hybrid schedule. Sixth and ninth grades will follow suit Sept. 21. Populations of students with special needs also are now receiving on-campus instruction.

Algonquin-based Community Unit District 300’s school board will vote next Tuesday on the district’s learning plan for the second quarter.

District 300 originally had planned on starting the year in-person but switched to remote learning. Now the administration recommends moving elementary, middle and high schools to a hybrid schedule for the second quarter beginning Oct. 13.

Read more here.

Editorial notes: During last night’s Board of Education meeting, Superintendent Brian Harris gave no date for reopening 220 schools even at a hybrid level much to the frustration of parents and students who spoke during the meeting.  

One could sense the frustration on the part of board members, but all Harris seemed to want to do was talk about metrics, doing more surveys and fumble with his PowerPoint slides. Meanwhile, only 80% of teachers and staff are willing to work on 220 property while the rest work elsewhere.

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Authorities estimate that about 500 people turned out for the “Barrington Back-to-School Rally” Sept. 14, 2020 at Citizens Park in Barrington.. (Karie Angell Luc / Pioneer Press)

Hundreds of people packed the lawn at Citizens Park in Barrington Monday, protesting against continuation of remote learning and calling for officials to allow students to play fall sports.

Barrington police estimated that 500 people attended the “Barrington Back-to-School Rally” and officers were out on foot and directed traffic ahead of the anticipated audience turnout.

The rally was to advocate to get children back to school in person.

“I want my kids to be in school,” said parent Erin Matta, of Barrington.

Amid ongoing concerns over the spread of the novel coronavirus, some school districts – including nationwide – opted to start the 2020-2021 academic year with students doing remote learning.

E-learning was a hot topic at the rally in Barrington Monday and the subject of adverse signage.

Read the Chicago Tribune/Barrington Courier-Review coverage of the rally here.

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The Barrington 220 Board of Education is meeting tonight at 7:00 PM at 515 West Main Street. A copy of their agenda can be viewed here.

The board is not scheduled to meet again until October 6th, so those wishing to comment publicly on current topics of interest would be advised to attend and speak. For those who cannot attend, meetings are streamed on YouTube, and the link can be found here.

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Parents in Barrington Area Unit District 220 said at a rally Monday evening at Citizens Park in Barrington that remote learning is a struggle no matter how much they try to help. (John Starks | Staff Photographer)

Holding signs like “Schools not screens” and “Stop playing politics, start playing ball,” more than 200 parents and students in Barrington Area Unit District 220 took part in a rally Monday evening asking the district to allow in-person schooling and sports.

District officials have said that students will be doing remote learning until at least Oct. 16. The “Let Them Play” rally at Citizens Park in Barrington asked Gov. J.B. Pritzker to “get our athletes on the field and kids back in the classrooms.”

Among the organizers were parents Jerry and Heather Ewalt of Barrington, who have four children in elementary, middle and high school in the district and said families should be given a choice between e-learning and sending their kids to school.

“Why are they not in school? They should be there,” Jerry Ewalt said. “I am asking for a choice. I understand some people are not going to be comfortable with going into school, and that’s OK.”

A survey conducted by the district earlier this summer showed 70% of parents wanted their children in school, he pointed out. “So why are they not in school?” he said, getting applause and cheering from the crowd.

The survey also showed about 50% of the district’s staff had concerns about returning to work.

Read more here.

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In 2019, the Barrington Area Walk raised over $45,000, making it the 20th highest in the country.

Over the past 50 years, tens of thousands of walkers cross the country have raised more than $500 million through the annual CROP Hunger Walk. In the 37 year history of Barrington Area CROP Hunger Walk, over 13,270 walkers have raised over $1.56 million.

This year, to keep everyone safe and healthy, we are introducing our VIRTUAL Barrington Area CROP Hunger Walk. You are invited to walk “wherever you feel happy”–around your house, your block, or your favorite path. You can join our “send-off” at 1:00 on Sunday, Oct. 11 via Zoom or walk at a time good for you. Just ask friends and neighbors to support you as you walk.

We know the economic effects of the pandemic and have seen the human toll of the virus rise. But there’s a secondary toll and the steps taken to mitigate the coronavirus are having their own impact. They’re disrupting food systems and urban and rural supply chains; closing businesses; and limiting human mobility. The pandemic has created increased need for food and resources for our local agencies and around the world. So, while our walk may be virtual, the need is real.

It’s easy to be a walker or a sponsor. Walkers may sign up online at www.crophungerwalk.org/barringtonil. Sponsors may look for their favorite walkers, team, or just make a donation to the Walk via credit card or PayPal and a receipt will be sent through email for tax purposes.

Your support will help Church World Service continue to address this food crisis by helping more families grow food at home; providing maternal and child health services; and investing in water, sanitation and hygiene. Twenty-five per cent of the funds raised stays in our area benefiting the Northern Illinois Food Bank, the FISH Food Pantry–Carpentersville, BACOA Meals With Wheels, Wauconda-Island Lake Food Pantry, United Partnership for a Better Community Summer LunchSp Program in Wauconda, Project HOPE, and the People in Need program of the Barrington Area Ministerial Association.

St. Anne Catholic Community is the host church this year; the co-chairs are Laura Cerretani and Paul Kalmes. For information, contact Laura Cerretani, at (847) 842-9629, ldcerretani@gmail.com.

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Flowers are placed in the inscribed names of deceased at the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, Friday, Sept. 11, 2020, in New York. Americans will commemorate 9/11 with tributes that have been altered by coronavirus precautions and woven into the presidential campaign. (John Minchillo/AP)

Americans commemorated 9/11 Friday as another national crisis reconfigured memorial ceremonies, dividing some victims’ families over coronavirus safety precautions, and a presidential campaign carved a path through the observances.

In New York, victims’ relatives gathered Friday morning for split-screen remembrances at the World Trade Center’s Sept. 11 memorial plaza and on a nearby corner, set up by separate organizations.

Standing on the plaza, with its serene waterfall pools and groves of trees, Jin Hee Cho said she couldn’t erase the memory of the death of her younger sister, Kyung, in the collapse of the trade center’s north tower.

“It’s just hard to delete that in my mind. I understand there’s all this, and I understand now that we have even COVID,” said Cho, 55. “But I only feel the loss, the devastating loss of my flesh-and-blood sister.”

Around the country, some communities canceled 9/11 ceremonies, while others went ahead, sometimes with modifications. The Pentagon’s observance was so restricted that not even victims’ families could attend, though small groups could visit its memorial later in the day.

Read more here.

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Chicago Tribune editorial cartoonist Scott Stantis will be featured in a virtual discussion Oct. 4 from Barrington’s White House.

Barrington’s White House will provide an all-virtual slate of events for this fall’s 2020 season.

While the White House had hoped to be able to offer in-person events as well, the reality of being able to adequately social distance and still provide a quality experience led the venue to the determination that holding virtual events this fall would be the safest option.

As such, all events in fall 2020 will be virtual. The season opener Sunday, Sept. 13, features the return of the Lincoln Trio, which will present the world premiere of “Dash” by composer Jennifer Higdon.

On Sept. 20, Barrington’s own Patty Dowd Schmitz and friends present “Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Connection to Illinois.” On Sept. 26, Robert McGinley and Judy Freeman lead a panel of experts from the Fox River Valley Heritage Foundation on “The Environment and COVID-19.”

October kicks off with internationally acclaimed Chicago Tribune editorial cartoonist Scott Stantis on Oct. 4, who will showcase his previous work and discuss the 2020 election. On Oct. 25, the Family Fun Players present a children’s musical adaptation of “Cinderella,” and Nov. 8 brings “Lost in Silence” from the Spoon River Anthology by the Midwest Dance Collective.

To view further events, visit the Barrington White House website here.

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Demonstrators hold signs along Harnish Road Tuesday during a rally for the reopening for in-person learning at the Algonquin-based Community Community Unit District 300 Central Office in Algqonquin. (Matthew Apgar/Shaw Media)

Saying that remote learning has not been successful, a group of concerned parents and students from Algonquin-based Community Community Unit District 300 rallied outside the Center Office asking district officials to reopen to in-person learning.

District 300 has been remote since the beginning of the year because of COVID-19.

Several speakers at the rally said they were worried for children’s mental health and the social isolation they might feel from not seeing their friends.

One Algonquin resident, Sharon Vandermeir, said her grandchild, in kindergarten, is not learning anything.

“She gets distracted easily, she’s bored, she doesn’t like to sit in front of a computer for six hours a day,” Vandermeir said. “The kids need an education, and Zoom is not an education.”

Read more here.

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Students lined the front row at a rally at Memorial Park in Wheaton Tuesday to demand in-person schooling be allowed.

As students across the Western suburbs begin the school year with remote learning, hundreds of parents rallied in a downtown Wheaton park Tuesday night to demand that students be allowed to return to classrooms and youth sports.

Parents of student-athletes in Wheaton Warrenville Unit District 200 organized the demonstration to increase pressure on school systems to make the leap to in-person instruction even as coronavirus case counts continue to climb in much of the region, particularly among young people. DuPage County has registered more than 1,300 new infections within the past 14 days.

The gathering in Wheaton’s Memorial Park drew participants from as far away as Mokena and Orland Park, Western Springs and Huntley.

Along with students, some teachers and coaches, parents at the rally made the case for reopening classrooms, arguing that the loss of social interaction in schools hurts their children’s emotional, mental and social well-being.

“Any parent could tell you that it’s not good for kids to be staring at a screen for 25 hours a week,” said Eric Brown, a parent of five children learning from home in District 200. “It’s not good for the kids. It’s not good for the teachers and what they do best.”

Read more here.

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Incoming freshmen at Barrington High School were able to tour the building in small groups and wearing face coverings during the Aug. 17, 2020 freshman orientation.

School has been in session – even if all-remote – for more than a week at high school districts in the north and northwest suburbs, and officials report it’s been a relatively smooth start.

A check with districts in Arlington Heights, Barrington, Highland Park and Lincolnshire turned up few glitches as they tens of thousands of students started the 2020-2021 academic year amid the global COVID-19 pandemic, with some creative beginnings that included limited in-person contact between students and teachers.

At Barrington High School, freshmen orientation was held Aug. 17, with small groups of ninth graders, all in masks and following health safety protocols, given a tour of the building. According to SD220 spokeswoman Samantha Ptashkin, many other students stopped by district buildings to pick up school-provided supplies and materials.

In an email, Ptashkin said the district is already bringing students in need of extra support into district buildings every morning. SD220 faculty are teaching from district buildings, giving remote instruction from their classrooms, she explained.

Barrington is typical of many districts starting remotely in insisting on student attendance and participation. In synchronous classes, where teachers and students are together by audiovisual link in real time, teachers will take attendance. In non-synchronous classes, where students are working independently, district officials say “evidence of engagement in learning activities” will confirm attendance and participation.

Read more here.

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