Starting next week, each District 214 school can have up to 650 students at a time
Amid increasing calls from parents and students for a return to school five days a week, Northwest Suburban High School District 214 is set to launch its hybrid schedule that will have students in school buildings two out of every six days.
Starting next Thursday, one-third of the district's 12,000 student enrollment will be able to come back if they so choose, while remote learning remains an option.
Students in a given cohort would attend in-person classes two days in a row -- taking four extended period classes a day as part of a block schedule -- then participate remotely the next four days.
That means about 650 students would be in a building on any given day, when normally it's close to 2,000 at each of the district's six high schools, officials said.
By classroom, there'll be as many as nine students at a time, with desks spaced out at least six feet apart.
Superintendent David Schuler said during a school board meeting Thursday night that students will find out which of the three groups they're in today. They'll get a corresponding sticker to put on their student ID that will be scanned upon entry so district officials know who is in school at a given time.
Parents don't have to decide in-person versus remote right now but have the option of sending their students to school day to day (of the two they've been assigned), or even class by class, Schuler said.
During the remote learning portion of their week, students will be able to watch live classroom instruction through Zoom video conferencing.
The transition to Stage 3 of the district's four-step reopening plan is made possible by improving COVID-19 health metrics that show 57.9 cases per 100,000 in the ZIP codes that cover District 214, Schuler said.
Under the district's plan, fewer than 69 cases per 100,000 are needed to bring some students back to school buildings. All students wouldn't be able to return until there's fewer than 7 cases per 100,000.
That's continued to be a bone of contention for those calling for a full reopening.
Fifteen parents and students spoke during an hourlong public comment portion of the board meeting that at times grew testy.
After the first five speakers, board President Dan Petro limited each person's comments to two minutes instead of three, saying they were being repetitive.
"You guys are moving way too slow for these kids to get them back in school," said Tony Rosselli, organizer of the Reopen D214 group and father of a freshman at Buffalo Grove High School.
Tim Bauer, a senior at Rolling Meadows High School, thanked the board and administration for allowing students back in school, even if it's limited.
"I understand the challenges you faced in getting us to this stage. However, do not look at this as a final step," Bauer said.
"Please work to get us back fully five days a week."