Elmhurst District 205 approves reopening plan

Elmhurst Unit District 205 plans to reopen all its elementary schools for in-person instruction when classes begin Aug. 24 and to offer a hybrid of in-person and remote learning for students in grades six through high school as it deals with continuing concerns over COVID-19.

The district, which serves roughly 8,500 students in eight elementary schools, three middle schools and York High School, has released a 35-page Open D205 plan that was approved Tuesday by the school board. It was compiled with input from a 78-person committee that formed in May and included teachers, administrators, school board members, labor representatives and community members.

Officials say the plan emphasizes the health and safety of students and staff and the importance of re-establishing relationships and meeting the social and emotional needs of students.

Among other things, it calls for all students and faculty members to wear masks at all times while inside buildings; requires parents to certify that their children are without symptoms or high temperatures before sending them to school each day; and outlines how physical distancing will impact classroom configurations, transportation and meal service.

Officials say they plan to open all elementary schools for in-person instruction, although parents may choose a remote learning option instead. Whichever option parents selects is expected to remain in effect through January - unless the spread of the virus causes additional social distancing restrictions.

In that case, the district will adopt a hybrid schedule that would divide elementary students into two groups, each of which would receive two days of in-person learning and three days of remote learning.

At the middle and high school levels, all students in grades 6 through 12 will have hybrid schedules - unless parents opt for full remote learning through the first semester.

Those schedules will include two days of in-person learning of typical school day length; two days of remote learning of at least five hours; and one day of remote learning with "intensive intervention programming."

That fifth day will allow some students to come to school for specialized instruction or a variety of other reasons while others remain at home for remote learning.

Superintendent David Moyer said the district was sending parents information on the various options Wednesday and will send them more information Friday about how to make their learning and transportation choices known to the district. Parents will be asked to make those choices by July 24 to give the district time to make the proper adjustments.

The district is promising to ensure all school ventilation systems are operating properly and to increase circulation of outdoor air as much as possible in its buildings. No more than 50 students will be allowed on school buses and janitorial crews will do extra cleaning.

Moyer said the reopening plan is based on the best information available to the district at this time, but parents and the community should recognize things may change before the start of school and during the school year.

"We need to be agile and recognize this is not set in stone," he said Wednesday. "We may need to change things as we go."

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