A recent survey offers perhaps the most comprehensive look yet into pandemic learning preferences of Oak Park and River Forest High School parents and guardians. 

Roughly 66 percent of the 1,809 parents and guardians who responded to the survey indicated they “would opt their students in for on-site classes” while 34 percent would opt their students out, according to a summary of the survey results outlined in D200 Supt. Joylyn Pruitt-Adams’ Monday Memo, a weekly update on the district’s plans during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pruitt-Adams said the results were broken down by grade and race/ethnicity, with the grade level results roughly mirroring the overall results. She said 66 to 69 percent of parents/guardians in each grade said they would opt their students in. 

The survey results varied markedly when broken out based on race/ethnicity, with 74 percent of parents of white parents, 57 percent of parents of Latinx parents, 57 percent of parents of biracial students, 52 percent of parents of Black students and 45 percent of parents of Asian students saying they would opt their students in for in-person learning. 

“As a reminder, the survey was not to get a commitment from families but rather to help in our planning as we work on the draft hybrid plan that will be presented to the Board on Nov. 19,” Pruitt-Adams explained.

According to a summary of findings of the draft hybrid learning plan available on the district’s website, in order to “maintain social distancing requirements, we can accommodate roughly 25 percent, or 850, of our students in the building at one time.” 

The district has developed an “A Day/B Day schedule where students will be divided into four groups that will rotate through on-site classes. We also have developed detailed health and safety protocols, including weekly saliva testing. An exact date for implementing the hybrid plan has not been determined, as it will depend on school, local, and county metrics for COVID-19.” 

Back in October, Pruitt-Adams announced the formation of a 48-person advisory committee designed to help the district’s 85-person steering committee devise a plan for returning to a hybrid model of in-person and on-site learning. 

The advisory committee has been meeting weekly since Oct. 15. Unlike the steering committee, which was created in May and mainly comprises OPRF faculty, staff members, administrators and parents, the advisory committee is composed of a diverse array of community members, including medical experts. 

On Nov. 16, Pruitt-Adams announced that, with cases of COVID-19 increasing both in Oak Park and throughout Cook County, the district is extending remote learning at least through Nov. 24, which is the last day of classes before Thanksgiving break, she said.

On Nov. 11, Gov. Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Public Health issued a stay-at-home advisory ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday. 

The draft hybrid plan is currently available online at: go.boarddocs.com/il/oprfhs/Board.nsf/vpublic?open.  

CONTACT: michael@oakpark.com 

Ventilating to avoid hyperventilating

In her Nov. 9 Monday Memo, which updates the district and community on District 200’s progress amid the pandemic, Supt. Joylynn Pruitt-Adams said the district has upgraded its air ventilation system, in order to improve air flow in the building. 

“Given that our building is so old, the condition of our ventilation system has been a concern for many parents and staff members,” the superintendent explained. “The district is following guidance from the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, which, in response to the pandemic, recommends that schools upgrade to filters with a MERV-13 rating. 

“These filters are efficient at capturing airborne viruses, including SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. During the past few months, we’ve upgraded the air handlers for nearly all classrooms to MERV-13 filters. In the 35 classrooms where the systems are too old to accommodate these filters, we will be providing individual filtration systems.” 

With in-person classes on the horizon, that should give some parents and students peace of mind.


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