Divided District 211 board rejects changes to current in-person schedule

  • District 211 board members Thursday voted down a plan that would have offered all students in-person learning five days a week, a sharp contrast to how the school year began when Conant High School English teacher Zia Nathan taught a fully remote class on the first day back in August.

    District 211 board members Thursday voted down a plan that would have offered all students in-person learning five days a week, a sharp contrast to how the school year began when Conant High School English teacher Zia Nathan taught a fully remote class on the first day back in August. John Starks | Staff Photographer, 2020

  • Lisa Small, Palatine-Schaumburg High School District 211 superintendent

    Lisa Small, Palatine-Schaumburg High School District 211 superintendent

 
 
Updated 3/19/2021 3:53 PM
This story has been updated with additional information about the board's votes, including to correct which members voted to return to the traditional school day.

The Palatine-Schaumburg High School District 211 school board late Thursday rejected a plan to extend the district's current in-person learning schedule with an hour of extra classroom time each day starting April 5.

The board also voted against returning the school to a pre-pandemic schedule of eight 50-minute periods each day.

 

Currently, students have the ability to do remote learning or be in the classroom for four 60-minute periods each day. The board voted 4-3 against a proposal by Superintendent Lisa Small to increase the class time to four 75-minute sessions daily.

Board members Kimberly Cavill, Robert LeFevre Jr. and Edward Yung voted in favor of the plan, while board members Anna Klimkowicz, Steven Rosenblum, Peter Dombrowski and Mark Cramer voted against the measure.

The board voted 5-2 against returning to the traditional schedule. Cramer and Dombrowksi voted in favor of returning to that schedule, according to district officials.

One change was made though. Enabled by state health officials' reducing the required distance between everyone in the schools to 3 feet instead of 6, the district has officially eliminated a two-team system in which students who chose in-person learning could access it only on alternating weeks.

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But school officials noted that system had not been in use since February due to the sufficiently small number of students who were choosing in-person learning.

With the vote, students will still have to attend all their classes over a two-day schedule, with A-Days and B-Days.

But Dombrowski criticized the proposed schedule for still having shorter than traditional school days.

"You're still stealing 100 minutes from them," he said. "I can't support this."

While students are getting just four hours of class time each day, they have the opportunity to participate in academic support sessions with teachers after lunch for what would normally be the remainder of the school day, district officials said. The students also have the ability to go home after classes are over at midday.

Cramer was concerned that with longer classes,lunch fell too late in the day.

"There's no way that that works," he said.

Under both proposals, the remote learning option would have remained available for those who choose it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

District 211 administrators are already planning the 2021-22 school year to be as normal as before the pandemic.

"We're looking forward to planning a traditional school year with a traditional schedule at all of our campuses," Small told board members earlier.

But the final two months of the current year would still have to be similar to the schedule now in place -- namely, with the A- and B-days, Small said. The A-Day/B-Day pattern has become part of the mindset for the current school year and would be difficult to change with so little time left, she said.

Cramer did not agree, suggesting students would be resilient enough to return to a full pre-pandemic schedule.

While the board rejected the expanded in-person plan, 2021 graduation ceremonies for all five high schools have been scheduled at the Now Arena in Hoffman Estates.

If COVID-19 protocols allow it at the time, the ceremonies would be held inside. But if not, each school's ceremony would be split into two and held as drive-in events in the parking lot outside.

Plans and venues for in-person proms are in place for all five schools, too, Small said.

Preparations are also being made for in-person summer school.

At this point, no plans are being made for any remote learning for the 2021-22 school year, Small said. Any such plans would be added only if specifically required by the Illinois State Board of Education.

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