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'I Cannot Risk Her Life': Indian Prairie, Matteson Parents Want Remote Learning, District Requires Kids In Classrooms

CHICAGO (CBS) -- We're just weeks away from the new school year, and a return to in-person learning for many kids who spent last year remote.

But what about remote learning for kids who aren't old enough to get a COVID-19 vaccine? Or have a medical condition that keeps them from getting vaccinated?

CBS 2 Investigator Megan Hickey reports some concerned parents who are finding there isn't an option in their district.

In Chicago, "medically fragile students" in Chicago Public Schools can apply for remote learning.

But in other districts, some parents are being told their kids will have to return to the classroom, despite their concerns.

"If she catch COVID-19 from school, I cannot risk her life."

This mom didn't want us to identify her, because she said she's already been bullied online by people opposed to wearing masks in schools.

"We have been quarantined for 16 months right now," she said.

She says her daughter has a serious preexisting medical condition that has kept her from getting the vaccine.

She applied for the school's "distance learning" option through Indian Prairie District 204, only to be denied.

"I was really upset and disappointed."

This family would come to learn that only "hospital-bound" students qualified in their district. So far, they haven't been given any other options to stay remote. She doesn't know what she's going to do.


She's not alone. Levitria Shelton, wants remote learning option.

"For me and my family, we all have asthma, I have asthma, my son has asthma, my daughter have asthma. So we already have health issues," Shelton said.

Shelton tells me she and her daughter are vaccinated but her son is too young. When she inquired about remote learning options at Matteson School District 162...

"They just blamed it on the school board and said, well, the school board says all kids have to be in school. So all kids have to be back."

It's true that the Illinois State Board of Education largely leaves remote learning decisions up to the district.

"School districts that would like to continue to offer remote learning to students on an individual basis -- if that will best meet the student's learning needs -- may do so under other parts of the law," ISBE's Superintendent wrote in a letter in May.

These parents said they want to know how many other parents have asked for remote learning options for their kids, because they know they can't be the only ones.

"I don't feel safe because of her. I cannot risk her life."

District 204 sent CBS 2 a statement:

Each application for distance learning was reviewed and evaluated by a committee to determine whether the student qualified.

Precautions for in-person learning were presented at our most recent board of education meeting on July 19.

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