Since COVID-19 first made an appearance in other countries, District 54 employees have been discussing how we can educate our students in person, knowing that children benefit from the connections with their teachers and other staff, as well as their peers. At the same time, we have worked on enhancing our virtual learning program so that if students had to or chose to learn remotely, they would have access to the same strong academic program, as well as a focus on their social-emotional well-being.
District 54 will begin a partial return to in-person learning for students in some of our special education programs the week of Sept. 28. We have examined the needs of the students in those programs and based that hybrid model on those needs. Families who chose in-person instruction would send their children to school two mornings a week. Students would participate remotely the rest of the school week. Families were asked to choose between remote learning and the in-person hybrid program. On Sept. 23, all families of students in this program received the Reopening D54 Plan for Identified Students with IEPs, which explains the procedures and practices that will be in place at this time in more detail.
District 54 is also reaching out to families of students who are newcomers to the United States this year and need support as English learners. Students would come to school for 1:1 instruction provided twice a week by a bilingual resource teacher, if they chose to do so.
District 54 strongly believes that students need to return to in-person instruction as soon as it is safe and logistically possible to do so. However, the District 54 Reopening Plan is based on public health information available at this time. The plan may be adjusted as new guidance from the Illinois State Board of Education, Illinois Department of Public Health, Centers for Disease Control and other public health officials is received or as necessary to best support the health and safety of our students and employees.
Please keep in mind, should Illinois move from Phase 4 back to Phase 1, 2 or 3 due to a resurgence of the virus, it is possible that the governor will direct all Illinois schools to move to remote learning for all students for a period of time. It is also possible that new restrictions could be instituted on classroom capacity limits, which could require a combination of on-campus and remote attendance days. As a district, we are preparing for a variety of scenarios and, as always, we are committed to keeping you informed every step of the way.
Reentry metrics and models for returning to in-person learning are some of the issues being discussed at Pandemic Advisory Committee, which meets next on Sept. 29. An update on the District 54 Reopening Plan will be presented to the Board on Oct. 1.
Although the start of the school year looked different this year, in District 54 we are committed to connecting with, engaging, supporting and ensuring the academic success and well-being of our students this year.
More details can be found at the following links.