Dist. 75 proceeding with plans for students to return to classrooms
School reopening plans come with an asterisk because of the coronavirus pandemic, but at this point Mundelein Elementary District 75 is proceeding with plans for students to be in classrooms starting Aug. 13.
"Things can change," said Dan Swartz, assistant superintendent for teaching and learning.
All parents will have the choice of remote or in-class learning for their kids, officials said. At the end of school in June, about 20% of responding families chose remote learning as their preferred option. Another survey went out Tuesday, according to Swartz.
As school officials fine tune procedures, the first of several virtual town halls hosted by the district is set for Thursday to get parents up to speed and hear their input. A session in Spanish is set for 3 p.m. and one in English at 6 p.m.
After the school board last week discussed aspects of the reopening plan focused on the in-school experience, Thursday's town-hall meeting will focus more on remote learning plans, Swartz said.
"The hope is that the town hall gives our parents enough information to make an informed choice," he said.
Future sessions are scheduled for 3 p.m. (in English) and 6:30 p.m. (in Spanish) Monday, July 27.
The upcoming session will consist of several "mini-presentations'" and should last about an hour, Swartz said.
Participants also can submit questions.
Under the district's plan, students at the Washington Early Learning Center and Mechanics Grove School will attend classes in person five days a week. Carl Sandburg Middle School students will alternate daily between in-person and remote instruction.
"There is no one right answer but there's a right answer for your family," Swartz said. "We want to provide options for families."
The content and standards for in-class and remote learning will be the same, officials said.
Universal precautions at all schools include temperature checks and symptom monitoring; multiple entrances; limited and controlled movement in hallways; social distancing; assigned seating in classrooms and on school buses; outdoor classrooms; limited sharing of materials; and required mask wearing.
None of the buildings will have a typical lunchroom. At Washington and Mechanics Grove, lunch will be 30 minutes of eating in the classroom and 10 to 15 minutes of recess. Students can bring lunch from home or eat prepackaged meals provided by the school.
At Carl Sandburg, students will eat in groups of no more than 30 in four large group areas.
According to the district, the cost of providing the appropriate social distancing, face coverings, enhanced sanitation and other measures for five days of in-person learning for the entire school year will be $675,300, or about $72,000 per month. The school board has authorized using reserves to cover costs.
District 75 is a feeder school for Mundelein High School District 120. Kevin Myers serves as superintendent for both.
"We are looking forward to having our students return to school, but with new restrictions on how we provide a safe environment for them to learn," he said in July 10 message to parents.
"Keep in mind, however, that current guidelines may continue to change and be very different by the time school starts," he added.
Myers is drafting a working plan of what actions should be taken if COVID-19 positivity rates or the reported number of infections reach certain levels.