With uncertainties of what school will look like this fall, Barkstall and Kenwood Elementaries will not reopen in July as planned
Barkstall and Kenwood Elementary Schools in Champaign finished school last week, complete with car parades and other end-of-year hoopla, social distancing style.
At the time, the conventional wisdom held that the schools would return to the classroom per their typical balanced calendar schedule in late July.
On Tuesday, Champaign Unit 4 Superintendent Dr. Susan Zola sent out a letter to Barkstall and Kenwood families announcing that the two schools will postpone their start date, with the first day of instruction on Thursday, August 20.
“The primary reason for this difficult decision is we do not have guidance yet from the Illinois State Board of Education regarding requirements for a return to in-person schooling,” the letter reads.
August 20 is the same start date as the regular calendar schools, which includes all of the rest of Unit 4 – from elementary to middle school to high school. The 2020-21 Unit 4 Schools calendar, as approved in January, can be viewed here.
In the letter, Dr. Zola says the district fully anticipates to return to the balanced calendar in 2021-22.
“I expected it after our first few weeks of quarantine. I’m kind of bummed because I like the balanced calendar but I understand,” said one Kenwood parent. “As long as we actually go back to school! It’s gonna be a loooong summer…”
While no one knows what the 2020-21 school year will bring, one thing is certain: it will be unlike any school year most of us have ever known.
The full letter is below:
“Dear Barkstall and Kenwood Families,
Because of continuing uncertainties about COVID-19 and what school will look like for 2020-2021, we have decided to shift Barkstall and Kenwood to regular calendar status for the coming school year. Let me assure you that Unit 4 remains committed to the balanced calendar model. We anticipate both schools will resume operating on a balanced calendar in 2021-2022.
The primary reason for this difficult decision is we do not have guidance yet from the Illinois State Board of Education regarding requirements for a return to in-person schooling. The first day of school for students at Barkstall and Kenwood under the balanced calendar would have been Thursday, July 23. That is just a few short weeks away. Instead, students from those schools will return to school on Thursday, August 20, the first day of school for regular calendar schools.
We recognize this change could create disruption for families and staff members. To provide time for those affected to adapt, we felt it was important to make this announcement as quickly as possible.
Thank you for your patience and understanding.
For more on back to school in Champaign-Urbana: