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Tri-Valley schools offer remote option, but aim to satisfy desire for in-person learning

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MCLEAN COUNTY (WEEK) - Like many other communities during the COVID-19 pandemic, children and their families in the Tri-Valley school district in Downs face a difficult choice how to return to school this fall, either to receive in-person or online instruction.

The Tri-Valley School Board this week approved a Return To Learn Plan that has two options, attending class in-person all five days of the week, or remote learning for the entire semester.

A vast majority of community and staff surveyed indicated they wanted a return to in-person instruction this fall, according to Superintendent David Mouser.

The only way for students to receive lessons from Tri-Valley staff is to actually return to the classroom. The remote option is for the entire semester, but the teaching will be done through on an online platform called Edmentum.

In a video posted on Tri-Valley's website, Mouser said the online option is challenging and rigorous, but they're not exactly the same lessons.

"It will not match directly what we're doing in the classrooms here at Tri-Valley, but we're going to try really hard with the work of our curriculum coordinator to match up the content as best we can," said Mouser.

"It is going to require good internet at home, and it's going to require a family member to help the child," Mouser said.

Kids taking online classes will be able to participate in extra-curricular activities.

Those choosing the in-person option will attend school from 8:10 a.m. to 2 p.m., allowing time for staff planning and for a daily deep cleaning of the three Tri-Valley schools.

"Unless there's a medical condition and a physician's note that we approve, every child and every staff member will be wearing a face mask," said Mouser.

The superintendent said he can not guarantee there will be social distancing at all times of the school day.

"This is a fluid plan," said Mouser.

"We know things are changing on a daily basis," he added.

Families have until August 14 to choose between the in-person and remote options.

Howard Packowitz

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