Many school districts surveyed staff and parents over the summer. They highlighted challenges in the spring. Several schools asked the students themselves about what they faced and what to change as classes resume.
A growing number of northern Illinois school districts have pushed their in-person start dates back and are beginning the school year online.
Sandwich School District delayed its start until early September so it would have more time to prepare to implement its fully remote learning option.
Just under half of Sandwich students polled said they anticipate needing some or a significant amount of support to complete their work digitally.
More students want to work individually at their own pace, while others prefer watching pre-recorded lessons or doing live sessions with their whole class.
Rockford Public Schools is planning both a blended in-person format and an online option. Around half of the families in the district chose to start classes remotely .
In its survey, a majority of students said they felt disconnected from their school community and classmates in the spring.
Nearly two-thirds of Rockford students also said they care for family during the day, either occasionally or more often.
According to the State Board of Education, 324 Illinois school districts, or about 44%, are beginning the year solely with remote learning.