During a special meeting on Dec. 3, the District 200 school board unanimously approved the final Hybrid Learning Plan for the second semester. The plan governs how students will return to partial in-person instruction — something that won’t happen until at least Jan. 19, D200 officials said. 

At the meeting last week, Supt. Joylyn Pruitt-Adams said the board’s approval of the plan allows administrators to move forward with completing schedules and “trying to make sure all of our teachers are assigned to the appropriate slots.” 

D200 administrators said they’ve extended the deadline for parents and guardians of students to either opt-in or opt-out of hybrid learning from Dec. 7 to Dec. 14. If parents and guardians do not make the selection by that extended deadline, then their child will automatically be placed in remote-only courses and won’t be able to switch to on-site classes at a later date, officials said. 

At last week’s meeting, Greg Johnson, assistant superintendent, said the district is taking that measure because they need the information to plan for how it will accommodate students once they are on campus. 

In her Monday Memo, a weekly update on the district’s hybrid learning planning, Pruitt-Adams said administrators “anticipate sending students their cohort assignments by the time second semester classes begin on Monday, Jan. 11.”  

But administrators still haven’t announced a hard date for when students will be returning to classrooms. That date, they added, depends on a variety of metrics, including COVID-19 case thresholds established by health departments.

“We will not implement hybrid learning until it is safe to do so,” Pruitt-Adams stated in her memo. “The soonest hybrid learning might begin would be Jan. 19. This date, however, depends on local and county COVID-19 metrics.” 

Whenever students return to class, administrators said, there will be strict measures in place to mitigate the spread of the virus. 

Classroom capacity will be limited to maintain distancing. Only 25 percent of the Oak Park and River Forest High School student population, which is roughly 850 students, will be allowed in the building at any one time. 

There will be directional arrows for hallways and stairwells, extra supervision during pass periods, cleaning between each class period and MERV-13 filters or ionization units for all classrooms, administrators said. 

In addition, students will undergo regular symptom screening by way of a cellphone app, regular temperature checks, constant physical distancing, weekly saliva testing, and masks will be mandatory. 

During the Dec. 3 meeting, administrators provided a rough idea of how much regular COVID-19 testing will cost the district once the hybrid model kicks in. 

Pruitt-Adams said the district is considering two vendors and the cheaper of the two charges $11 to administer a single test. With 3,300 students and approximately 400 faculty and staff doing testing at least once a week (Pruitt-Adams said they’d screen some students “almost every day”), that amounts to approximately $370,000 over 17 weeks. 

Johnson said that cost could be lower depending on various factors, such as the size of the in-person student population and whether or not in-person learning happens all 17 weeks. At $20 per test, the second vendor would cost roughly double what the lowest-bidding vendor costs, Pruitt-Adams said. 

The superintendent said administrators hope to bring a recommendation for a COVID-19 testing vendor before the school board at the regular meeting on Dec. 17.  

CONTACT: michael@oakpark.com  

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