Teachers and administrators with suburban Cicero School District 99 have taken a number steps to resume in-person instruction in the coming weeks, under a new hybrid model backed by the town council and union members.
Starting in mid-March, parents will have the option to send their children back to classroom. Many students, staff and parents welcome the change after being completely remote for nearly an entire year.
"It is not an ideal model, but I think it’s better than doing nothing with our kids," said Rodolfo Hernandez, the district's superintendent. "We know they need to come back to school."
Under the part-time hybrid learning model, students will be broken into groups and physically attend school on certain days of the week, for half a day. They'll then continue remote learning in the afternoon.
"The students that will come into the building will get the benefit of having interaction with their classmates from a distance, of course, but also have a teacher there to answer any questions they may have," the superintendent added.
Ahead of welcoming students back, the school district has implemented a number of safety measures including smaller class sizes, COVID testing as well as ventilation and cleaning systems.
All employees will return on March 15, while students are expected to join them on both March 16 and 22.
"I am happy for my kids, they are very excited," said Josefina Arenas, a mother whose children attend the district. "I am as well.”