With the entire state moving into Phase 4 of the governor’s Restore Illinois plan on June 26, we are currently reviewing updated guidelines from the Illinois State Board of Education about reopening school for the 2020-21 school year.
Assuming Phase 4 will be in effect on August 17, the scheduled first day of school for District 117 students, our updated reopening plan has most students learning remotely until after the Labor Day holiday. After the Labor Day holiday, we anticipate phasing in small groups of students in a blended or hybrid schedule, with one-sixth of our students on campus each day. The intention of the hybrid option is to reduce the number of students in school each day in order to maintain social distancing and reduce the transmission risk for students and staff. Detailed information about moving to the blended/hybrid model will be shared with the District 117 community in late August.
Assuming that we are not yet in Phase 5 (“Illinois Restored”) by Labor Day, it is important to know that any possible return to campus will look and feel very different than it has in the past. The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) has issued the following requirements for schools to reopen under Phase 4:
a. Masks or face shields will be required to be worn by all faculty, staff, and students.
b. Extensive building cleaning would occur throughout the day and in the evening.
c. Social distancing protocols must be followed and class sizes significantly reduced (approximately 50% of students every other day)
d. Large group gatherings or activities of more than 50 people will not be allowed to meet.
As the health and safety of our nearly 2,800 students and 350 faculty and staff is our first and foremost priority, we will be working this summer to prepare for the implementation of the guidelines from the IDPH and the ISBE, as well as the Centers for Disease Control. In addition to the requirements listed above, students, faculty and staff should expect that any return to campus will require these additional safety and health precautions:
While risk cannot be eliminated altogether, we believe that by following the advice of our medical partners, and the health and safety guidelines from the CDC, IDPH and the ISBE, we can significantly reduce the risk of transmission of coronavirus on campus. Doing so, however, will require a shared commitment by all of us to take care of ourselves and each other with care and compassion.
Additionally, CHSD 117 has a robust return-to-school plan in place that will provide all our students a safe, healthy learning environment and will provide all our students the same rigorous, supportive, high-quality education that our families expect. But this year, this learning experience will look a little different. In addition to new procedures and policies that follow ISBE/IDPH guidelines, the current plan is that CHSD 117 will return to school while implementing a mostly remote learning strategy that will limit the number of students in our buildings.
CHSD 117 has some of the best educators in America. We are confident that they will deliver outstanding instruction no matter the circumstances.