PETITION IMPLORES KANELAND SCHOOL BOARD TO TAKE ACTION TOWARDS A FULL-TIME IN-PERSON PLAN
Kaneland Go Forward- Parents United is a facebook group created for Kaneland School District 302 parents who support the betterment of children through 'truth, respect, love, prayer, and accountability'. More recently, the group has been focusing on the topic of 'Return to School In Person Full-Time' with a petition circulating at change.org/kaneland302 imploring the Kaneland School Board to 'please take action for Kaneland students by offering a full-time in-person school option', while also recognizing that parents should have a choice if remote learning works better for their family.
The petition sites 'that negative emotional/mental and academic impact has been created for kids due to the extended remote learning / hybrid-only model'. It also notes that this petition is 'based on findings from conversations with Kaneland administration along with extensive research from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) and Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH).'
The petition summary reads:
• We request the Kaneland School Board of Education to hold Kaneland administration, specifically Dr. Todd Leden and his staff, accountable in the development of a full-time/ in-person school model with an effective date of April 5, 2021. This gives our District six weeks to develop a plan and allow our students to end the school year in-person, full-time.
• Create a dedicated committee with the common goal of developing the full-time/ in-person school.
• Allow parents to attend the Kaneland School Board meeting in-person on February 22, 2021 at 7pm (meetings are still virtual with no parent presence even though the state of Illinois provides guidance approving gatherings of 50 or more).
• This petition is a positive “call-to-action” with suggestions for change and next steps.
The petition also notes the following:
• This petition does not in any way state or suggest that Kaneland teachers are not doing their best and do not care about our children. In fact, we have heard that many teachers prefer to go back full-time to support their students, and they recognize that teachers are “essential.”
• This petition does not suggest that kids with medical needs should return to school in-person full-time. There should be a remote option for that population. Likewise, teachers with medical needs could be the remote teachers.
• This petition is not calling for any Board members or Administrators to resign or be removed from office.
Petition organizers, Kim Harner of Sugar Grove and Tonia Groezinger of Maple Park, are passionate about this movement. Both moms have three children and live in the Kaneland school district, but their school-aged children currently attend private school until Kaneland returns to full-time in-person.
"For most of the year, since the pandemic started, I have been very vocal about my concerns with how some decisions would impact our children. Over the past few weeks, I have decided to get some answers to my questions by going directly to the source," said Tonia.
"In doing this, I found that Kim also wanted the same questions answered. Kim had created a Facebook group to get input, ideas, and concerns from other parents throughout our district. When Kim and I connected in her group about two weeks ago, we realized how concerned many parents were and how little was actually being done by our district to secure a full-time in-person learning structure, we knew action needed to be taken." she added.
The local moms have been building a network of parents who share the same concerns. In just a few days, the facebook group has over 300 followers and the petition has over 725 signatures.
"I refuse sit back and hope things will change. Our children deserve more academically, socially, and mentally. As our network continues to grow, I know that the fight I am facing is well worth it and that many people want the same changes for our children. People are going to have their negative comments and negative feelings towards our movement and towards me. And while I wish that wasn’t the case, I feel strong enough in this movement to push the negativity aside." Tonia concluded.
Some opposition was expressed in social media towards the petition's April 2021 deadline with some parents noting that they prefer things to stay as-is, at least through the end of this school year. In response to this, co-organizer Kim Harner, has shared that parents should have a choice if remote learning is best for them and she wants this to be a peaceful movement.
She also shared that the matter concerning a full-time in-person plan is time sensitive due to the planning that needs to be done for an in-person model to be carried out. Through numerous conversations with Kaneland Administration and 302 Board Members, Kim shared that she learned Kaneland still has major obstacles to providing an in-person full-time option for students, even for August 2021.
"The obstacles administration has mentioned to Kim and Tonia in conversations are staying within the guidelines of 50 students on buses and maintaining six-foot social distancing while in school. Even though the district has flexibility to adjust the “guidelines” to work for Kaneland (as many other public schools are doing), it does not appear that this is being considered at this time, but rather the District is waiting for Illinois guidelines to change. This has many parents worried," said Kim.
"If we do not push for an aggressive and focused approach now to get an option for full-time in-person school soon, I'm not sure when anything will change for our students. Parents deserve to know this level of detail. It is alarming to think that parents might assume the district is farther along in problem solving this topic than they actually are, especially nearly a year into the pandemic," Kim added.
She encourages Kaneland parents who share these same concerns to connect by joining the facebook group where much of this level of detail is shared.
"I am hopeful that the Board will be responsive to the action items we suggested in the petition, including asking Kaneland administration to be accountable for the development of a full-time committee dedicated to the initiative and a developing an option of offering full-time in-person school for those who want it. And to be clear, Tonia and I have ideas based on research and would be willing to contribute to the committee, but we are not petitioning to solve the puzzle for everyone. We are simply petitioning that the Kaneland public elected officials, the Board of Education, keep administration accountable to move forward to solve this problem and that they do so with the help of a designated committee and a sense of urgency working within the existing Illinois guidelines that are not likely to change anytime soon with the CDC stance that social distancing will continue to be a guideline regardless of vaccinations," Kim concluded.
Currently, the petition has over 725 signatures. The Kaneland School District continues to operate under a Hybrid A/B and Remote Learning Model. Since the petition was started on Monday, the Board President Shana Sparber has notified Kim and Tonia via email on Wednesday that an in-person school board meeting will be held at Harter Middle School on Monday, February 22 where parents will have the opportunity to speak publicly regarding this matter during the 30-minute public comments section of the meeting.