UPDATED 3:20 P.M. | Superintendent Barry Reilly has announced District 87 will resume in-school instruction in a hybrid format as an option for students in grades 7 through 12, starting in January.
In a message sent to parents, Reilly said bringing students back to Bloomington Junior High and Bloomington High schools during the fall semester would disrupt the class schedule, noting that courses and teachers change at the semester break.
“Rather than bring students back in mid-November, only to change schedules and teachers within a few weeks, this plan will cause the least disruption,” said Reilly, adding some BJHS students take some high school courses and some teachers work in both buildings.
“Waiting until the start of the second semester will create a smoother transition for these students and teachers,” he said.
The district begins hybrid learning for pre-K through second grade on Oct. 26. In the hybrid format, students are in school two days each week, while two days each week are for asynchronous learning and one day is all online instruction.
Reilly has said the hybrid model has been effective is containing the spread of the coronavirus as no more than half of the students are in school each day. He said previously the major health risks for students in grades 7-12 are limiting social distancing between class periods, in hallways and on school buses.
Reilly said the schools will try to limit the time students have to spend in hallways or other areas where students gather.
"We are working to minimize the amount of transition, so the schedule will look a little bit different," Reilly said. "It might not have seven periods in a day, for example."
He said the district will also explore options for lunch since students would typically congregate in the cafeteria.
He said other large school districts have prevented coronavirus outbreaks by enforcing masks and social distancing guidelines.
"The bottom line is if we adhere to those and do our jobs well, which I am comfortable we will, we should have very limited if any transmissions during the school day," Reilly said.
Reilly said the district will provide more information to families as the spring semester approaches, including the deadline for when they could choose to stay with all online learning.
The district said nearly 30% of students in pre-K through grade 2 will stay with all-virtual instruction.
Grades 3 through 6 will begin in-person instruction starting Nov. 9. Parents have until Thursday to opt out of in-school instruction.
The District 87 school board is scheduled to meet at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, though these return to school plans are not on the agenda as they don't require board approval. The meeting has been moved to Bloomington High School to allow for social distancing for a potentially larger number of attendees.
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