On Friday, September 25, the McHenry County Department of Health, or MCDH, released a “McHenry County School Metrics” document, stating that schools may begin opening at their own pace, but must do so following guidelines provided by the MCDH.
This announcement makes it clear that schools must begin hybrid learning before they can go into full in-person learning. This decision was made to ensure that safety precautions are taken and students along with staff have lower chances of getting ill. The MCDH ensures that they will assist schools in reopening to the best of their abilities.
Following the release of this information, superintendent Ryan McTague sent out an email to all parents and students, explaining District 156’s plan for the future.
“We have started the process to plan and develop a return-to-school hybrid model timeline in conjunction with our feeder Districts 15 and 36,” stated McTague. “However, we must still be able to comply with all IDPH guidance and requirements (social distancing/limits on gatherings).”
Although the school district is looking to open up, the decision can not be finalized without approval from the board of education. Once the board meets to determine reasonable terms to open, including precautions that will be put in place, the decision will be finalized and released to the public.
“I want to stress that no final decisions have been made concerning the instructional model or timeline,” stated McTague. “However, we need to start the planning process and would most likely target the first or second week in November as a potential hybrid return date. This would also coincide with District 15’s initial timeline.”
According to the document presented by the MCDH, they state, “MCDH will work closely with schools to monitor compliance with contact tracing and monitoring, school absenteeism, disease activity, school capacity/infrastructure to implement guidelines, and other indicators to inform the transition between learning models.”
MCHS teachers have been teaching remotely from their classrooms these past two months, and a majority of them have high hopes that students are able to come back to school, even if it means that the students are in the building part-time.
Teachers such as English teacher Joseph Dundovich are excited about the opportunity to go back to school. “As an English teacher, small group and whole class verbal discussions are a huge part of a successful class,” stated Dundovich. He believes his students will be more comfortable in person rather than over Zoom, due to conversations he’s had with his students.
For Dundovich, though, his situation is particularly unique. This is Dundovich’s first year at MCHS, and it started off with e-learning or remote learning, but that doesn’t stop Dundovich from being optimistic for the future.
“Your first year at any new job is going to be a learning experience filled with ups [and] downs regardless,” he said. “That being said, I feel lucky that the English department has been so generous with sharing resources and tips for using the technology and teaching with it. Same goes for the district’s DLC staff (Digital Literacy Coaches). . .I know I’m in a much better position than others in terms of support from our colleagues and administration.”
Other districts, such as 155 in Crystal Lake and Cary, are opening hybrid learning on Tuesday, October 13. Their website lists their precautions, and hopes for a second semester.
“D155 will evaluate the success and safety of the students and staff throughout this A/B learning schedule. The goal is to have all students back on campus full-time for the 2nd semester. We must also be prepared to go fully remote on short notice in the case of a district or state shutdown.” states the District 155 website.
With the future of hybrid learning in near sight, students, teachers, and parents start to prepare for another change.