District still does not have official return-to-learn plan, less than one week until school starts
RIVERSIDE – The Riverside Brookfield Education Association (RBEA) plans to rally tonight, ahead of this evening’s school board meeting, calling for Riverside Brookfield Township District 208 to put safety first and start the school year with full remote learning. Immediately following the rally, teachers, parents and students plan to speak during the public comment portion of the District 208 Board of Education (BOE) meeting this evening.
Today’s public action comes after the District 208 administration has been pushing for a hybrid learning plan that includes outsourcing remote learning to outside company Apex. Signing a deal with Apex would reportedly cost taxpayers $150 per student.
“We are absolutely against outsourcing our students’ education. We want to teach our students. That’s what we are being paid to do,” RBEA President-Elect Marty Sloan said. “It’s really hard to wrap your mind around why the district would even be considering this. Apex does not include human instruction or interaction. It is unacceptable to the RBEA that Superintendent Dr. Kevin Skinkis provided Apex as the only option for families that chose remote learning. Our students deserve better than that, especially during this trying time.”
“We don’t feel comfortable with Apex nor did we agree with just having our kids skip the in-person learning part of the hybrid option. RB said our kids could just catch up with teachers during office hours. That puts staff in the position of doing two jobs,” Parent Peggy Rios said. “From my perspective, the district never really considered a remote option staffed by teachers whose sole job would be to teach remote learners. I’m disappointed in our district and worried about my kids. I also notice a pattern of disrespect towards our teachers and an utter dismissal of their safety concerns by the superintendent. His public comments about them are really unprofessional.”
RBEA has 134 members who are teachers, education support staff and other educators in District 208. They serve more than 1,600 Riverside Brookfield High School students, 40 percent of whom are Black and Brown.
“We know COVID-19 is disproportionately impacting our Black and Brown communities, and we know that COVID case numbers in Cook County are rising. We need to protect all our students and open remotely,” Sloan said. “Opening schools to in-person learning right now is an unnecessary risk, putting student and staff lives in danger. What we need is a thorough, robust remote learning plan that addresses all subject matters and grade levels. Once that’s in place, we can begin to work toward a safe reopening plan.”
Tonight’s rally is at 5:30 p.m. in the faculty parking lot at Riverside Brookfield High School (160 Ridgewood Rd., Riverside). Rallygoers are encouraged to wear blue and white and will have the option of joining a car parade. All attending the rally are asked to wear masks, social distance and follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Illinois Department of Public Health guidelines. The District 208 board meeting is also at the high school at 7 p.m.
The 135,000 member Illinois Education Association (IEA-NEA) is the state’s largest education employee’s organization. IEA represents preK-12 teachers outside of the city of Chicago and education support staff, higher education faculty, retired education employees and students preparing to become teachers, statewide.