Two west suburban school districts released their respective reopening plans Monday, both offering students and their families multiple options for in-person or remote learning as the coronavirus pandemic continues.
Naperville Community Unit School District 203 will offer two options: the "hybrid model" and the "online academy," Supt. Dan Bridges said in a letter to the school community.
Beginning Aug. 20, the hybrid model will be a combination of in-person instruction and virtual learning, the district said, allowing for approximately half of the student population to return to campus for parts of the week in smaller groups. Students will be placed in an A/B rotation according to last names, with either group attending in-person classes on alternate days, according to the district.
The online academy will be entirely remote, with a combination of live teacher instruction and self-paced activities, District 203 said, adding that the coursework is "designed to be more rigorous and offer more live learning opportunities than the remote learning period from the spring of 2020."
Students who enroll in this option must remain in it for the entirety of the term, the district says, asking parents to make a decision and enroll in this option, if they choose it, by July 22. If parents do not sign their children up for the online academy, they will automatically be enrolled in the hybrid model, the district says.
"We believe that beginning the year with the hybrid model allows for students to acclimate back into the educational setting, learn the new health and safety guidelines, and to evaluate what each student needs both academically and socially-emotionally for a successful transition," Bridges' letter reads. "The Hybrid model and current state will be continuously evaluated with the goal of returning students to in person learning as soon as it is safe to do so."
Indian Prairie School District 204, the state's fourth largest district, announced its reopening plan in a similar letter Monday evening.
The district, which includes the west suburban communities of Aurora, Bolingbrook, Plainfield and Naperville, begins fall classes on Aug. 20, Supt. Adrian Talley said. The plan includes two options: "A/B/C schedule" and "online academy" as well.
For the A/B/C schedule option, students will, based on their last name, have an assigned schedule of two in-person instruction days and two remote instruction days each week. The assigned schedules will be on Tuesday/Thursday and Wednesday/Friday. Mondays will combine whole class remote instruction, individual student support and teacher prep time. Students with special needs may attend school four days a week. Public health guidelines, including requiring face coverings, will be followed.
For the online academy, all instruction will be delivered online. This will be open to all students, though parents must register their child for a full semester by Aug. 1. Due to staffing limits, parents cannot select or drop this option after that date, the district says.
Attendance will be taken and work will be graded to determine a student's final grade, according to the letter. Parents will be able to select their option beginning the week of July 20.
The state of Illinois has already unveiled its guidelines for the return to school in the fall, which could allow students back in classrooms.
Those guidelines, which were released as part of Phase Four of the “Restore Illinois” program amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, specify that each district will be required to come up with their own rules for the return to class.
Under the guidelines, students will be limited to gatherings of fewer than 50 individuals, and all students age 5 or older will be required to wear facial coverings. Extra sanitation procedures will be put in place, and if the state sees a surge in new coronavirus cases, in-person learning may be suspended and replaced with virtual learning, as it was earlier this year.
President Donald Trump said he remains determined to reopen America’s schools, threatening on Wednesday to hold back federal money if school districts don't bring their students back in the fall. He complained that his own public health officials’ safety guidelines are impractical and too expensive.