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Peoria Public Schools Offering 2 Remote Options For Fall Term

The Peoria Public School Board voted Thursday night to provide two options for remote learning this fall.
Peoria Public Schools District 150
The Peoria Public School Board voted Thursday night to provide two options for remote learning this fall.

Public school students in Peoria have two options for remote learning this fall.

All District 150 students in K-8 have the choice to participate in either the virtual learning at home program, or a distance learning model that replaces the planned hybrid format.

“We want our kids and our families to have options and to have the very, very best – have options so that we can prepare them well, we can graduate them well, so that they are going to be productive citizens,” said Supt. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat.

During a 4-hour special meeting Thursday, the Board of Education approved a handful of digital platforms and materials for the remote formats. The action followed Monday’s 5-hour session where the board ultimately opted to move the entire first semester off campuses during the COVID-19 crisis.  

“We just changed the entire model and turned this on a dime, and I stand behind that decision,” said board president Doug Shaw. “I know it is a hardship on everybody involved. But as I said before, if I am going to be responsible for something, it’s going to be responsible for looking for your safety.

“The level of risk was unacceptable to me, and I got the same feedback from the board.”

About 1,600 students have registered for the virtual learning at home platform that has been available since July 8, leaving the bulk of the district’s K-8 enrollment with the distance learning option. All high school students will also participate in the distance learning program.

“With the online platform, we’re envisioning that even when we get back to the 'normal' school, there will be a number of families who will not come back to a traditional building,” said Desmoulin-Kherat. “As a result, we have to have additional options and additional choices for them.

“We talk a lot about reimagining education (and) this option will provide us the opportunity to build that path for those families who want that path.”

According to information on the district’s website, the virtual learning program will have Peoria teachers preparing lessons and allowing students to work independently through various activities. The distance learning option will be taught by the assigned classroom teachers five days a week through Microsoft Teams.

“We handed this to the administration and said, ‘here, this is what we want you to do.’ They need to tell us what they need to operate that, and we need to give them the tools they need,” said Shaw.

The school year was originally scheduled to begin next Wednesday but has now been delayed until Aug. 24.

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Joe Deacon is a reporter at WCBU.