District 25's proposed return to school could be among earliest in Northwest suburbs

  • About 50 parents and students rallied outside the Arlington Heights Elementary District 25 Dunton Administration Building Thursday night before a school board meeting. They called for a return to in-person learning in lieu of the current remote model.

      About 50 parents and students rallied outside the Arlington Heights Elementary District 25 Dunton Administration Building Thursday night before a school board meeting. They called for a return to in-person learning in lieu of the current remote model. Christopher Placek | Staff Photographer

  • Renee Schlenhardt, organizer of the Reopen D25 Schools group, addresses the Arlington Heights Elementary District 25 school board Thursday night about a return to in-person learning.

      Renee Schlenhardt, organizer of the Reopen D25 Schools group, addresses the Arlington Heights Elementary District 25 school board Thursday night about a return to in-person learning. Christopher Placek | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 9/17/2020 11:39 PM

Amid increasing calls by parents for a return to in-person learning, Arlington Heights Elementary District 25 is poised to become one of the first public school districts in the Northwest suburbs to reopen its doors, officials said Thursday.

Three internal district committees are finalizing plans on a proposed hybrid schedule that could begin as soon as Oct. 12, when as much as half the student population could be on site at a time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Under one such plan being considered, students could come to school for a daily morning or afternoon session, and spend the other half of the day doing remote learning.

Another plan calls for half to come to school for two days a week, the other half to come for two days, and everyone to be remote on the fifth day.

The working groups, which include a mix of administrators, teachers and parents, are set to review details this weekend before finalizing their hybrid system by next Tuesday. That information would then be sent out to parents with a survey asking if they favor sending their children back to school buildings or if they prefer remote learning.

Before a school board meeting Thursday night, about 50 parents and students rallied outside the district's administration building, calling for a return to in-person learning as soon as possible. Some of them later came inside to express their views during public comment at the meeting.

A transition model of reopening proposed in late July called for a possible return to a hybrid system as soon as Sept. 21. But the committees wanted more time to go over the details, while at the same time agreeing to bring back a larger number of students at a time, according to Superintendent Lori Bein.

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Kindergarten and grades 1 and 6 are expected to return to school first, followed shortly thereafter by the other grades.

"We moved the start back, but we're bringing more students in a quicker succession than under original plans," Bein told school board members Thursday night.

District officials say the gradual return to school will be possible based on a set of metrics they're using, including a suburban Cook County COVID-19 test positivity rate of less than 8%; and new weekly cases rates in Arlington Heights of less than 175 per 100,000. But the plan also assumes the district is able to navigate possible operational barriers, such as transportation and staffing. Or that there isn't a major breakout of the coronavirus in District 25 schools.

But right now, the numbers bode well for the district, officials said.

Bein said District 25's return is one of the earliest among other elementary districts in the Northwest suburbs, with others also planning a transition to hybrid models in October and November.

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