District 99 set to follow a new hybrid schedule starting Jan. 5


Lauren Wilmore

Superintendent Dr. Hank Thiele presents the new 2021 Hybrid Schedule set to go into effect on Jan. 5.

District 99 is planning on transitioning to the 2021 Hybrid Schedule starting Jan. 5. Students will attend in-person learning four days a week, going in the morning or afternoon based upon their group assignment by last name. Students will have an option to stay remote or return to in-person learning.

If conditions allow, District 99 plans to follow this hybrid schedule until spring break. In order to maintain the a consistent in-person learning environment District 99, is taking the following precautions: masks need to be worn at all times, social distancing must be maintained, all areas are to be properly sanitized, nursing staff will be increased and contact tracing will happen in collaboration with the local health department.

Along with these guidelines, District 99 has determined that if the total number of positive cases is higher than 9% of the school’s total population, in-person learning will be deemed unsafe and students will return to a fully remote schedule.

Based upon feed-back from the previous semester, District 99 has it will be most effective to bring students back in school four days a week. Superintendent Dr. Hank Thiele explains the district’s reasoning behind the decision to increase the amount of in-person learning days.

“By every student coming to school every day, even though it’s for only a half-day, we believe it will help create a more consistent learning environment… [making] it a more valuable experience when they’re here,” Thiele said.

Thiele continues, stating the goal the district aims to achieve through the new hybrid schedule.

“Everyone’s goal is to prioritize the opening of schools as safely and as quickly as possible. That has been our goal all along, but in doing so we have to make sure that when we bring students back to school, we are doing it in a way that slows the spread of COVID-19 inside of the school and in the community,” Thiele said.

Student Board Representative Zoe Boyd expresses how she’s in favor of the district’s decision to adopt the hybrid schedule.

“A lot of people appreciate consistency and are having a hard time adapting and changing their schedule. Above all I think that the students and the community appreciate more so than consistency, that [District 99] is using the facts and metrics on hand to make well informed decisions,” Boyd said.

With students returning to in-person learning, this allows for special education students to have an in-person teacher along with materials needed to support their learning. A parent of a special education student, Carrie Norris, shares her viewpoint on her son’s learning challenges in a remote environment.

“We feel the only thing that’s going to get our son back on track is in-person teacher presence. In our minds the lack of face-to-face lessons is the biggest culprit of our son’s listless academic attitude and rising anxiety.”

Norris continues, “District 99 special education services were not offered a specialized pandemic program; we really lean on hope that our son’s situation will improve in January when a more regular hybrid plan is put to action. It is a dire need for many that an in-person instruction model [to be] implemented immediately and remain in place,” Norris said.

Similar to first semester, students and families have an option to opt out of in-person learning. District 99 is only requiring student to fill out a form if their option is changing from first semester; students should submit the form sent to them in their school email by Dec. 18. If students choose the fully remote option they must commit to that schedule until spring break.