District 300 plans for in-person learning five days a week in the fall
After a year of mostly hybrid and remote learning because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Algonquin-based Community Unit District 300 is looking to bring students to school in person full time this fall.
Although school officials expanded in-person learning earlier this year, allowing elementary school students to be in-person five days a week, middle and high school students remained in a hybrid model, meaning they had both remote and in-person learning days on an alternating schedule.
But for next school year, all students will have five days a week of face-to-face instruction, Superintendent Fred Heid told members of District 300 school board during a meeting Tuesday.
"We'll wait for further guidance as to what (the) impact (is) of mask-wearing, social distancing and other factors we have to address moving forward," Heid said.
Families will be given the option to stay in remote learning if their child or others in the family meet certain medical criteria. Giving a remote option is something that has been clearly defined as an expectation for school districts by the Illinois State Board of Education, Heid said.
Qualifying medical conditions for unvaccinated students include asthma and diabetes, as well as genetic, neurological or metabolic conditions, among others.
District 300 will survey families to see to what extent they qualify for these exemptions.
"Based off that, we will be able to plan over the next few months as to how to best support those students," Heid said. "With our reopening plan, we have the ability to assign fully in-person and fully remote sections. But again, we will provide families with an opportunity to provide us with documentation."
Though Heid said the hybrid learning model has worked well for the district, he added it is not the best possible academic delivery for students.
Because of this, he said the district will work to minimize and eliminate hybrid options for students to the greatest extent possible by providing in-person sections and remote sections for those who choose it.
Families who choose to keep their students remote will be required to stick with their choice for the entire school year.
"It is not quarterly. It is not semester-based," Heid said.
Not only is the district allocating staff to be able to give an in-person and remote option, but Heid also said students switching learning models could cause a problem if the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend social distancing guidelines, even at 3 feet.
"We do not have the space to bring all those students back into a classroom once it's been scheduled," Heid said. "We will be very inflexible with this. I apologize in advance that that's the appearance we're giving. But that is our reality. We cannot force additional bodies into classrooms where we may not have the physical space. "
Students who stay in a remote learning model will not be able to take certain hands-on classes, as they would have to come to campus for those, Heid said.
At the elementary level, remote students will not be able to participate in the dual language program.
In May and June, the district will determine remote sections. Then, in July, students' schedules will be completed and should be available to parents and students the first week of August.