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Unit 4 Superintendent Says Fall Classes Will Stay Online For 1st Quarter

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Garden Hills Elementary School in the Champaign Unit 4 School District.

CHAMPAIGN – In a change of direction, the Champaign Unit 4 school district has announced that fall classes will be held on a remote basis only, through at least mid-October, as a continuing precaution against spreading COVID-19.

Unit 4 Superintendent Susan Zola said in a statement released Wednesday evening that the district will use Distance Learning through the first quarter of the 2020-21 school year.  School officials will make a decision on what to do after that, by the end of September.

“We understand that the next several weeks will feel overwhelming,” said Zola, who also said that some students would need help accessing online education services.

“Addressing these inequities is critical, and we’re committed to ensuring access to all students,” Zola stated.

Zola’s announcement comes after the Unit 4 district proposed a plan to mix virtual and in-person classes for all students, except for those from families choosing to opt out and use an all-virtual academy.

When that plan met public resistance, the district made a new proposal in July. It would have focused in-person learning on students considered to be most vulnerable: those with special needs, from low-income households and those learning English. Otherwise, students would continue to take their classes completely online.

Zola acknowledged resistance to the earlier proposals, stating that district officials continued to receive feedback as the new plans were being announced.

The new plans for fall classes at Unit 4 are similar to those announced at Decatur Public Schools District 61, and at Chicago Public Schools. Both systems also plan to provide online classes for the first quarter, with a decision to be made later on what to do for the rest of the school year.

The Unit 4 school district serves families in Champaign, Savoy, Bondville and nearby rural areas in Champaign County.

(Updated to mention plans for fall classes in Chicago – Jim Meadows, 8/5/20 11:35 p.m.)

COVID-19 is a rapidly evolving story, and we are working hard to bring you the most up-to-date information. We recommend checking the Coronavirus Information Center for the most recent numbers and guidance.

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Jim Meadows

Jim Meadows

Jim Meadows has been covering local news for WILL Radio since 2000, with occasional periods as local host for Morning Edition and All Things Considered and a stint hosting WILL's old Focus talk show. He was previously a reporter at public radio station WCBU in Peoria.

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