Junior and seniors at Oak Park and River Forest High School had better be wearing their IDs, have passing grades, and routinely show up on time to class if they want to leave the campus for lunch.
Those are among the parameters the school has established for upperclassmen under the new, partially-open campus policy that takes effect on Aug. 24 when school resumes.
“We’ve spent this summer doing our due-diligence and now it’s time to see how this pans out,” said OPRF Principal Nathaniel Rouse.
The remaining conditions include parental approval and having no more than one unexcused absence during a 4½-week progress report period. Students must have five or fewer tardies and can’t have any F’s in any of their classes. And students must meet each and every condition to earn privileges. If juniors and seniors lose their privilege, they can earn them back during the next 4½-week period.
“We believe these are attainable goals and the system will reset after four and a half weeks to allow students to reset themselves so they’re not penalized, so to speak, for the entire nine weeks,” Rouse said.
An internal closed campus committee will monitor the policy and report to the school board, Rouse added.
The new policy appears in the upcoming school newsletter and has also been communicated to parents via letters mailed home. Postings on school bulletins around the building will also make students aware, along with reminders by teachers and staff. Upperclassmen can only leave the building through the mall doors near the North Cafeteria. Under the old policy — where only freshmen were prohibiting from leaving, though many did anyway — students could leave through any door.
Freshmen and sophomores will now eat in the South Cafeteria while the North Cafeteria will be for those juniors and seniors who remain on campus.
Rouse noted that the school is expanding its academic offerings during the day for students during lunchtime. The tutoring center is relocating from the third floor near the library to the second floor near the principal’s office. The goal is to eventually have the center on the first floor near the cafeterias.
“People may think, ‘What’s the big deal about moving the tutoring center?’ For us, by bringing it closer to the cafeterias, and putting a teacher in the center, it’s going to position us to provide academic resources to students,” Rouse said.
Typically focusing just on math, the center, Rouse said, will now cover all of the core subjects. A full-time tutor has also been hired for the center. As for lunchroom logistics, the school has purchased additional tables and added two more serving lines for students. The school also plans to hire an additional custodian to work the lunchtime periods.
“We’ve tried to anticipate as much as we can, but we know this will be a work in progress,” Rouse said.