Photo by Joe Boyle
School District 230, which includes Stagg High School in Palos Hills, will offer a combination of remote learning and some in-person instruction.
By Dermot Connolly
Leaders of local school districts have spent the summer coming up with plans for a safe return to school this month while they continue to deal with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Most of the local school districts will be offering remote learning or a hybrid that includes some in-person instruction.
The hybrid plan approved by the District 230 Board oversees three high schools. Stagg in Palos Hills, Sandburg in Orland Park and Andrew in Tinley Park make up District 230. The district calls for one day of in-school instruction for all students, and remote learning on the other days. The plan got a mixed reaction from parents and teachers, judging by statements read at special board meetings held on July 27 and again on Monday.
While many parents and teachers expressed concerns about the safety of having class in the building even one day, a few parents said that one day was not enough.
Like in all the other school districts, students and faculty must wear face masks during in-person learning. Numerous other safety precautions are being taken as well.
“ The D230 plan is built to be flexible,” said Superintendent Dr. James Gay on Monday, adding that the oversight committee is reflecting on feedback from parents and staff, and assessing the latest Cook County Health Department statistics.
“ I think everyone who has worked on this plan has done as much as possible to take health considerations and social-emotional needs into consideration,” said Board President Tony Serratore, who took issue with claims that was not being done.
The board on Monday approved a new iWave air purification systems at all three schools a cost of $95,000.
In District 218, which includes Richards High School in Oak Lawn, Shepard High School in Palos Heights, and Eisenhower in Blue Island, students will begin the school year on Aug. 17 with three weeks of remote learning.
Public information officer Bob McParland said students will start coming to school on Sept. 8, with half attending one day and the other half the next with the groups divided alphabetically. Students will have remote learning at home on the days they are not in school, and all students will participate in remote learning on Wednesdays. Classes will be held from 10 a.m. to 3:15 p.m.
“ We feel it is crucial that we prepare our students and staff for both worlds. Our plan attempts to do just that by gradually phasing in an eventual return to in-person instruction. We will use the first month of the school year to help both staff and students become acclimated to a new school environment, to prepare for new instructional platforms, and to learn how to effectively follow new, rigorous safety protocols,” said Superintendent Dr. Ty Harting.
Similarly, Oak Lawn Community High School District 229 is offering blended learning or fully remote learning options, with all students assigned to blended learning unless their parents say otherwise. With blended learning, all students will attend class remotely. Students will be divided into two groups, and attend school on alternate days.
“The well-being of our students, our staff, and their families was absolutely paramount as we considered if and how we could have people return to campus. As you can see in the plan, no stone was left unturned in our efforts to keep our building clean, sanitized, and safe for all,” said Superintendent Michael Riordan in a letter to parents.
Evergreen Park Community High School is also starting out the fall semester with remote learning.
Remote and in-person learning is being offered in North Palos School District 117, which includes Conrady Junior High School in Hickory Hills and four elementary schools in Hickory Hills and Palos Hills.
Likewise, families in Chicago Ridge School District 127.5 are being offered a choice between hybrid learning, attending classes two or three days a week, or fully remote learning.
Ridgeland School District 122 is also considering a fully remote learning option, while Mark Fleming, superintendent of Worth School District 127, told parents recently that his district is still working on a specific plan that would conform with state recommendations, which he noted are fluid.
He said that his district, which opens on Aug. 26, later than many, is considering a fully remote learning option for parents who don’t want their children wearing face masks all day.