After doing remote learning for more than six months, Maryville Jen School, led by Principal Anne Craig, has made the decision to have all its students return to the Des Plaines campus Monday, Oct. 19. It will be a blended remote learning plan, with half of the students physically attending at a time.
The plan, according to Craig, is to rotate the students. There will be a gold and blue week with students attending four classrooms each week, splitting them in two groups; while half the students are in-person, half will be remote. To prepare for the Oct. 19 reopening, Jen School faculty will return Oct. 15 for training.
“The start of school year 2020-2021 has by far been the most unique start to any school year in memory,” said Craig. “None of us could have imagined kicking off the new school year from our homes, let alone being online six months ago when we first heard of COVID-19 and social distancing.”
Craig added that despite the many challenges, Jen School students, faculty and staff have made the school year already successful with their understanding, assistance, and flexibility.
“Our students have done a remarkable job adjusting to this new way of learning, engaging and taking ownership of their education,” said Craig. “They have shown true resiliency during these unpredictable times, and I am so impressed and proud of them.”
Craig thanks staff, students and their parents for their patience as reopening plans are continually developed and refined.
“Our priority continues to be, and will remain, the health and safety of everyone,” Craig said.
Moving forward, she said, she and her staff will continue to look to state and local agencies for guidance to finalize plans.
Since remote learning was implemented in mid-March, Craig said that faculty and staff remained connected with their students through weekly home visits. Check-ins were performed on porches or outdoors while practicing safety and social distancing.
“We made sure that our students have what they need in terms of Wi-Fi connection, school supplies, food and other necessities,” said Craig.
Aside from participating in academic classes, students had vocational classes where they designed 3D projects online.
The physical absence of students this summer did not deter longtime volunteer master gardeners to continue with the Jen Organic Garden Program. The garden yielded a successful harvest and Jen School was able to donate 1,000 pounds of produce to Des Plaines and other local food pantries, and put together food baskets for students that were delivered to their homes.
Jen School is recognized as a National Association of Special Education Teachers School of Excellence seven years in a row, from 2014 to 2020. It strives to provide learning experiences through an instructor-mediated, experiential learning process. It believes and promotes lifelong learning with a strong focus on social and emotional growth.
Jen School provides integrated educational services for students ages 10 to 21 with emotional, behavioral, and learning disabilities.
For more information, visit www.jenschool.org.