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Bloomington parents worried about childcare after District 87’s switch to all-remote learning

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BLOOMINGTON (WEEK) -- When District 87 announced an online return to school plan, parents showed concerns about what that meant for childcare and student development.

District 87 Superintendent, Barry Reilly said the change of plans came after seeing other districts have students return to in-person learning resulting in positive cases of COVID-19.

"While we felt good about mitigating risk while people were here, when they're not with us we can't control that," said Reilly.

This plan differs for students with special needs or those who participate in bilingual learning. Those plans are laid out on a student by student basis with options for classroom time in addition to online learning.

"And if things improve dramatically perhaps we could begin a staggered return, but the reality is we're very hopeful for a treatment that will allow us for a full return and getting back to a sense of normalcy," said Reilly.

Reilly said District 87 teachers will handle all instructions for students instead of using a third party software program.

Despite having access to a teacher, some parents still felt they have to shoulder that burden.

"I need a qualified professional teaching my children because I just don't have what it takes. And coming from a family with two working spouses, where's the time?" said District 87 parent, David Sturgill.

Bloomington-Normal YMCA announced this week they would work with the district to provide childcare, but that still comes with a cost.

"That's I mean a $400 a week situation that you're forced into two weeks before school starts. One trying to find a child care provider and that's assuming I don't have to take off of work to teach my child," said Sturgill.

That $400 breaks down to $200 a week per child at a YMCA member rate. The district said they are fully aware of these costs.

"We will look at options to even perhaps house some limited capacity within our school buildings to help parents and we are looking at ways to help reduce those costs," said Reilly.

District 87 plans to provide more information by next week in order for parents to prepare for the start of school.

Paige Blanzy

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