Addressing the possibility of reopening the school district as early as November, the SD308 school board met on Monday, September 28, in order to highlight the specific details of their plan. Nothing is set in stone, however, as the board still needs to cast their votes at the next meeting.
In their presentation, the board emphasized that the safety of students and staff is their top priority.
The highlights of the presentation include the updated IDPH guidelines regarding reopening, specific Stage Metrics, and symptoms to look out for. The board wants to minimize health risks and maximize in-person instruction for students and enable families to be in control of their education in the way they see fit.
Because of this, the board is implementing two types of learning: in-person and remote. The overall structure for classes will be significantly different than they are during remote learning for all. Students who choose to continue remote learning will attend class on a livestream while those choosing to learn in-person will be physically in the classroom.
Much like the plan before the start of the year, students planning on being present in the building will be grouped alphabetically to reduce contact as much as possible. These two groups will be in school two days out of the week, either Monday and Tuesday or Thursday and Friday. Board member Toni Morgan shared her thoughts about the reopening plan.
“I really hope [the reopening plan] represents all the people who should have a voice in making a plan like this,” Morgan said.
Schedules will also be moderately altered to better accommodate for disinfecting classrooms. For the high schools, lunch periods will be at the start and end of the school day, much like what takes place when finals happen, to reduce the number of students on arrival, and every day will be a half-day. No lunch will be served until the school is fully reopened.
At the time of this publication, the board plans on hiring 31 additional custodians and 20 additional health office clerks. These staff members will be tasked with sanitizing entire schools on the days where no one is present in the building. This will greatly impact the budget, but, again, safety is the board’s number one concern.
The board plans on these new procedures being implemented as soon as December 3, when students participating in in-person learning are expected to return. Students enrolled in Special Education or English Learner classes will have the option to return to school earlier to get adjusted to the new system in place.
The school board has yet to vote on whether or not to fully implement the reopening plan. The next District 308 School Board Meeting will be held on October 13 in the Oswego East community room.
“Somebody’s there for you,” Morgan said. “Someone wants to help you when you’re having a problem, and if that’s not happening in our schools, I really urge young people to write and let us know as a board and let us know as a school district.”
More information on the specifics of the reopening plan can be found at sd308.org/reopening.
Lucy Weiher is a staff writer for Oswego East High School’s online news magazine the Howl