Round Lake-area students set for partial return in March
Round Lake Area Unit District 116 is planning to return students to classrooms under a hybrid learning plan with some students beginning March 8, almost a year after the first shutdown prompted by COVID-19.
A second wave of students is expected to return March 29, following spring break.
Superintendent Donn Mendoza cited the drop in the rate of COVID-19 in the 60073 ZIP code and mitigation strategies such as mask usage, social distancing, hand washing and contact tracing as reasons for the partial return to classrooms.
The incidence rate for the 60073 ZIP code was 107.9 per 100,000 averaged over seven days in early October and has now fallen to 39.1 per 100,000 as of Jan. 11.
"With a continued decline of the incidence rate and our ability to implement the following mitigation strategies, we are confident that RLAS-116 will be able to implement a hybrid learning plan," Mendoza said in a statement.
Students in hybrid learning spend some time in the classroom and some time attending school remotely.
Mendoza said more details will be released Jan. 25. From Jan. 25 until Feb. 1, parents of the 7,300 students will be offered a choice for when their kids will return to school. Parents also can select full remote learning for the remainder of the school year.
Families will be contacted Feb. 16-19 with details of their students' attendance groups and transportation routes.
All plans are tentative and depend on the decline of COVID-19 incidence rates.
"Our ability to return to school is aligned to our local metrics," Round Lake's Director of Engagement & Community Relations Heather Bennett said. "We are hopeful that the vaccine will bring our metrics into a range that provides us with the opportunity to make a hybrid option available to families."
The school went to full remote learning when the school year began Aug. 19 and continued as Lake County's COVID-19 cases increased. The end of the last school year also had classes conducted remotely after Gov. J.B. Pritzker ordered schools to close beginning March 17.
Vaccines are slowly starting to be administered in the county. Roughly 60,000 doses so far are available primarily for front-line health care workers and residents and staff members of long-term care facilities.
Students in the district were issued iPads and retained tablets from last year to have access to their assignments while learning remotely. Students in remote lessons in kindergarten through fifth grade also received bags of supplies needed for language arts, math, science, social studies and fine arts lessons.