Do Not Reopen Unit 5 Schools

Do Not Reopen Unit 5 Schools

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Jackson Bettis started this petition to McLean County Unit District No. 5 Board of Education

Following their July 22nd meeting, the Unit 5 Board of Education approved a plan that will disproportionately affect students over matters of health, security, and finances, and WILL jeopardize the lives and financial security of students, teachers, and other school employees in the Unit 5 school district. 

The plan offers two unequal choices for each family: in-school instruction or a virtual plan, with the virtual option being an outsourced online curriculum purchased by the district. For elementary school students, the in-school option would have them attend school five days a week, whilst the junior high and high school students will only attend two days a week. The classes will be split in half with one set going two days apiece, and everyone virtual on Wednesday. This plan is an attempt to lessen the numbers of bodies in the building given the large class sizes of the junior high and high schools, but it is not enough. 

COVID-19 infection cases in McLean County are rising and are now at their highest level since schools closed in March. In fact, current infections are almost DOUBLE what they were in May after an extended quarantine. In others states, including our neighbor Indiana, where schools have already opened, infection rates have already forced closures. Our community is not yet in a stable position to manage this scale of return. In a best scenario, this plan wastes time as it provokes a speedier shutdown and thus additional disruption of education, and at worst, we will watch some of our beloved students, teachers, and faculty members die. This is our mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters and children, so losing even one life is unacceptable. 

Further, this plan presents a disproportionate choice for families, as it forces a choice between quality education versus personal health and safety. Virtual courses will not equally compare to every in person course since it is an outsourced program and not a personally designed curriculum by the teachers, and it is already clear that some courses (such as Honors and Dual-Credit courses) will not be offered virtually. This negatively impacts the educational growth and collegiate opportunity of students who must stay home for health concerns. 

For these reasons it is imperative to our community that the Unit 5 Board of Education including members Barry Hitchins, Amy Roser, Alan Kalitzky, Taunia Leffler, Meta Mickens-Baker, Kelly Pyle, Mike Trask, and Superintendent Kristen Weikle be forced to reconsider this plan due to community voice. A one hundred percent virtual plan or at least an option that further reduces in-person contact on a daily basis is crucial to the health and safety of every citizen in McLean County. 

We can't reopen our schools until everyone attending is healthy, and that's not something we can guarantee right now. 

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