Youngest District 47 students to transition to fully in-person school days April 5
Crystal Lake Elementary School District 47 students in kindergarten through fifth grades are set to attend full days of in-person classes starting April 5, but middle school students will continue to be dismissed at noon and have remote learning in the afternoon, district officials announced this week.
Students who are attending remotely also will have their daily school schedules lengthened, the district said. All kindergarten through fifth grade students, whether in-person or remote, will attend classes from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
"While this hasn't been the year any of us have hoped for, I continue to be amazed at what we accomplished under the circumstances," Superintendent Kathy Hinz said in a video address to district parents. "We've shown we can change on a dime when we need to move from one learning model to another. ... While there are only three months left in the school year, we want our students to finish strong."
Middle school students will also see their schedules change starting April 5, with in-person students set to attend classes from 8 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday, and then get dismissed to re-enter remote learning virtually from 1 to 2:34 p.m., the district said.
Middle school students in remote classes will be on the same schedule, but attending virtually.
District officials said the move will not result in more screen time for remote students.
"Increase of instructional (synchronous) time doesn't equate to an increase in screen time. Our teachers will continue to balance opportunities for students to learn and engage in their education both on and off the screen," the district said in a message to parents on its website, mentioning silent reading, independent writing and application of math concepts as screen-free learning activities.
"These offline activities will allow students to work independently and have a break from the screen while teachers meet independently with small groups of students as they would in the classroom," the district said.
Parents have also questioned why middle school students cannot attend in-person instruction all day, like elementary students will, according to the district website. One reason is it would be more difficult to pull off the lunch period in middle school than in elementary school, the district said.
"If lunch was held in middle school cafeterias, it would take all day to rotate student groups of 50 or less at all grade levels for lunch," the district said.
It would also have to hire at least 24 more staff members to supervise lunch and recess at each of its three middle schools to have students eat in their classrooms, which is where elementary students will eat, the district said.
There also is a lack of space in middle schools to hold more than 10 to 12 students in some of the special classrooms that are currently being used to teach core academic classes, the district said, as well as a dearth of teachers with specific subject area certifications.
"When looking at the additional middle school classes needed to accommodate a full day of in-person instruction, there are not enough candidates with the specialized certification to fill the anticipated openings," the district said.
Lunch and recess for elementary schoolers will be 50 minutes, with students eating in the classroom, or outside if weather allows. Students will be monitored by a lunch and playground supervisor. During lunch, students will remove their masks and eat at their desks. Desks will be wiped down after eating.
Masks will be required outside during recess unless students stay in designated spaces for mask breaks.