SD308 Board votes to reopen district schools as early as January 2021

The SD308 School Board discusses the reopening plan for the district’s schools. “It’s going to be very hard. I really hope that this can be a good case scenario and that we keep everybody safe. [I hope] that the parents will support their kids and do what they have to do to make sure this all works, and that they are supportive and helpful with the teachers and not critical,” Board member Toni Morgan said. Photo courtesy of BOE Streams.

Due to feedback on the recent proposal of the reopening plan, the SD308 Board of Education met on Tuesday, October 13th to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of their plan and make a final vote on the revised reopening plan for the districts’ schools.

The two elements of the reopening plan that have changed since the September meeting due to said feedback are the start date for the junior high and high school levels and the schedule at the high school level.

Instead of the initial November start date, students in grades six through 12 who choose to return to in-person learning will come back to school on January 11th. Sixth and ninth graders would come to school for orientation on January 7th and 8th.

In their presentation, the Board highlighted the benefits of a later start date.

The January start date will provide the district enough time to ready devices for students, adequately train and hire staff members, as well as allow for an easier transition for both students and staff.

While the new start date will allow for these positive opportunities, the Board acknowledged that there are some disadvantages, one of these being the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the SD308 community. Director of Communications and Public Relations Theresa Komitas addressed parent concerns over case metrics and safety within the 308 schools.

“There was significantly more testing over the last several days, so our pool of people was quite a few more than we’ve seen up to this point, which could be what is driving those numbers,” Komitas said. “Again, the overall trend from the last 14 days does show an uptake. We don’t know if that’s going to come back down like it has previously or if that’s setting a new threshold for us, so we will continue to watch and update.”

The Board plans to keep communicating these statistics with the public as openly and effectively as possible.

“I am updating those numbers on the district’s website under ‘Metrics,’” Komitas added. These numbers will be updated every week.

The other change to the original reopening plan is the high school schedule. While similar to the original reopening plan’s schedule, some alterations have been implemented.

High school students will still have a choice on whether or not they will return to in-person learning. Those who choose to return will physically attend classes two days a week. All students will remain remote and at home from 7:30 a.m. to 10:05 a.m. The remaining periods will run from 11:00 a.m. to 1:55 a.m., with time after for Student Support. While one group is in school, the other, as well as those who choose to remain remote, will attend class on a livestream.

According to the District 308 website, Wednesdays are reserved for deep cleaning the building and will be fully remote for all students.

To further the precautions, the district added that no student will have access to a locker and will be required to carry around their materials in a bag throughout the day. Some band lockers will be used and athletic lockers will be given out on a case by case basis.

The motion passed with a 4 to 3 vote. More information can be found on sd308.org/reopening.

Lucy Weiher is a staff writer for Oswego East High School’s online news magazine the Howl

One comment

Leave a Reply to Gerri J Weiher Cancel reply