Suburban parents, students call for the return of in-person learning

Some parents in Plainfield and Barrington say they just want the choice. 

They want to be the ones to decide whether or not to send their kids back to school. 

A crowd of about 60 stood outside the Plainfield District 202 administration building calling for school to be back in person.

Organizer Sherrie Graham, a Plainfield mother of four, says the coronavirus risks are low compared to the risk of harming a child's mental health. 

"We are done having the meltdowns from the kids at night that they are upset they can’t see friends, younger ones. High school kids falling into depression," Graham said.

For children with special needs, some classes are harder online. 

“I have a speech problem so I can't learn how to correct my words when I do mess up,” said Tilly Broadfield, a local 6th grader. 

District 202 has 26,000 students, all of whom have been at home e-learning this year. 

The district is in Region 7, which has a high COVID-19 positivity rate. Still too high for indoor dining to be allowed. 

“It may be a little too soon but I think that maybe we have to take that risk and stay safe while doing it,” said 8th grader Natalia Nedza.

Parents and students at Barrington District 220 also demanded the reopening of classrooms. 

Heather Ewalt, a Barrington mother of four, said school closures have impacted all students regardless of economic status.

“My children, who are very privileged, they each have their own desks. We’ve done everything right. We have tutors and they are suffering. If my children are suffering, I can’t imagine what the children who are in, maybe not-so-great homes are feeling not being in school,” Ewalt said.  

In Plainfield, administrators say they too want to open up, when the time is right. 

“We absolutely want our kids in schools. It’ s where they should be this time of the year,” said Tom Hernandez, Plainfield District 202 spokesman.

He says in two or three weeks they will decide if they can make any changes. 

Among the factors will be virus metrics, guidance from health officials, lack of substitute teachers, and PPE supplies, Hernandez says.