On Monday, October 5, superintendent Ryan McTague made the official announcement that students may return back to school for hybrid learning starting on October 28.
Two weeks after his original message about the MCDHs decision for schools to open, McTague along with the rest of the District 156 administrators, made the official decision that many parents, staff, and students have been waiting for.
Students will be going to school every other day with remote learning on days they are at home. On the first day of school, students with last names A-La will attend school, on what is called “orange days”, and students with last names Le-Z will attend on what is called “black days.” On students “off days”, or days that they are not in school, they are expected to attend school asynchronously.
It was also decided that every Friday, students are expected to attend all eight classes asynchronously via remote learning.
Previous to this announcement, various emails were sent to students and staff, making them aware that they were in the process of making the decision. Specifically, in an announcement sent out to all staff members on Thursday, October 1, McTague explained that the original plan was to reopen in November, but due to the MCDH’s approval to reopen, administrators were swayed to open sooner rather than later.
“While originally we were looking at the first week in November to make this transition, at this time we plan to bring students back to the building on Oct. 28th to start the hybrid learning model (if conditions still allow),” explains McTague, who adds that the date allows for a “soft open” for two days before the student’s five-day fall break. “This soft open will allow us the opportunity to troubleshoot and resolve any issues we may experience with the reopening since students will not be in session on Friday, Oct. 30 through Tuesday, Nov. 3.”
The school urges students to participate in this hybrid learning experience, because it gives flexibility to students, and also attends their needs by giving them the in person learning they need. But, the school has made it clear that if students cannot attend school due to personal reasons such as family health or personal health, they may attend school fully remote.
The school, as mentioned before in previous announcements, intends to ensure that the safety of students and staff through precautionary measures such as maintaining a six-foot distance, sanitizing desks and other physical equipment, along with daily temperature and symptom checks.
With the constant lurking fear that the pandemic could worsen, and cases will break out in the school, administration has come up with a back up plan of returning to remote learning.
“As you know, this is a very fluid situation. Based on a number of factors including public health metrics, confirmed cases in our district, and staffing considerations we may have to continue or return to a digital learning environment at some point this semester,” McTague stated in his announcement. “I want to assure you our goal remains unchanged as we balance the importance of in-person instruction and our students’ connection with our schools, their teachers, and each other. However, it is also our responsibility to ensure we comply with the Illinois Department of Public Health and ISBE guidelines to keep our students and staff safe during this ongoing pandemic.”
As staff and administration work to open the school for hybrid learning within these next two weeks, students begin to prepare themselves for their new normal way of learning, and socially distant interactions between peers and staff.