The SD308 Board of Education met once again on Monday, December 7th, and were presented with an updated plan for the return to in person learning in January.
The initial rollout to return students to the building was for November, but was then further moved back until early January. At this meeting, Superintendent Dr. John W. Sparlin revised the reopening plan to now allow high school students to come back by early February, with no specific date in mind.
The board indicated that the first reopenings would begin with early childhood, elementary, and special education programs in January, and the secondary education programs would be phased in at the beginning of February.
The board noted that they intended to proceed with the hybrid model, as they previously voted on. This would allow half of the students in the school two days a week and at home learning the other two days. The Wednesday in between is still to be used as a fully remote day for all students.
There were a variety of circumstances that led Sparlin to this decision. According to Sparlin, the cases of COVID-19 in the state of Illinois have not improved in any means but rather have worsened contributed to this particular decision. Sparlin referenced the statistic in his address that Illinois experienced the single-highest number of deaths due to the virus on December 2nd.
Although Sparlin did indicate the fact that Illinois could possibly be issuing out the first wave of vaccines in the very near future, he said that the prioritization would be going to health care workers, first responders, and long term facility care workers. Therefore, Sparlin told the board that this vaccine rollout would make no impact in bringing back students for the immediate future.
“We all have the same want and same desire to bring our kids back to our buildings, but we also need to be cognizant of the metrics and continue to follow the science,” Sparlin said.
Once again, the board and the superintendent ensured that they would update the community with these metrics throughout this process.
Sparlin highlighted the importance of the number of cases as the board follows through with this plan, as it will be heavily influenced on the number on COVID cases in Illinois. If the numbers are similar to what they are now in January, the remote phase will be elongated, according to Sparlin.
All parents and members of the SD308 community were additionally promised at least one week notice on any changes regarding the students either going to hybrid learning or staying remote. The next update will come before winter break from Sparlin to issue notice on the intention of moving to hybrid learning.
District employees and families were alerted in November that the latest news regarding the district reopen would be electronically distributed no later than December 22nd.
Any additional information on the plan to reopen can be found on sd308.org/reopening.
Charles Jaegle is a staff writer for Oswego East High School’s online news magazine the Howl