District 99 returning to in-person learning April 6


Luc Alvarez

Starting on April 6 students will be following an early dismissal schedule.

District 99 is taking a step towards “normal” school by implementing a new schedule that aims to get as many students at school while still following the safety guidelines.The schedule will keep Mondays as remote learning days, while Tuesday through Friday will be full in-person days with an early dismissal at 1:30 pm. Students will not have a lunch break, however the schedule includes a 10 minute snack break during the third class of the day.

Due to a less populated building, Transition 99 will return to a five day week schedule in which students will be permitted to eat while maintaining a six-feet distance .

One of the main reasonings behind the lack of a lunch period is the amount of students who are planning on doing in-person learning, according to the survey. Superintendent Dr. Hank Thiele explains how the survey has given the district more insight into how to transition back into full in-person learning.

“For our planning purposes based on [the data from the survey regarding families’ plan on allowing their students to return to full in-person], we are planning on going from two-thirds of our students here to 89-90% of our students here. We have to factor that into our planning that, as we said before, bringing more students back will bring more students back. So as we factor this in we have to think about school with more students here on a daily basis,” Thiele said.

Thiele explains why he thinks it’s important for as many students as possible to be back in the building.

“We want to try and build a program that gets the most students through the door, because that will encourage [even] more students to come through the door. The administration has believed all year the best spot for our kids to learn is here. We’ve tried to work through some challenging guidelines to make that happen and we think we have a plan that does that,” Thiele said.

In order to keep a safe learning environment, students that have been within three feet of another person who has tested positive for COVID-19 will be required to do remote learning while they quarantine. Thiele details how the block schedule will keep illness to a minimum.

“[With the block schedule] we don’t have as many students mixing throughout the day, so there’s less chance for close contact, there is less opportunity for students to have to quarantine, tracking illness and spreading illness. So the idea is to limit the cohorts throughout the day with the block schedule,” Thiele said.

With 80-90% of students responding that they will come back to in-person learning after spring break, there is a raise for concern on what this means for students who will continue to stay remote. Board member Daniel Nicholas talks about his concern with fewer remote students.

Luc Alvarez

“If we get 90% of the kids back, a traditional classroom is going to have 3-2 kids online and 18 in the classroom. What’s the experience like for the two kids by themselves at home versus requiring everybody back in the classroom… I’m worried that those remote learners are really going to struggle,” Nicholas said.

On Monday’s all students will be remote but now each class will be 40 minutes instead of 25 minutes. Student board member Sam Bull explains why a longer class period is more beneficial.

“I think that 40 minutes is better than 25 [minutes] but the disadvantage with that is in general zoom fatigue is going to set in after the first 5-6 periods for [most] kids… [However] I think that’s definitely a good trade-off… from an educational standpoint the good outweighs the [bad],” Bull said.

For a more comprehensive view of the changes coming to District 99, reference the slideshow presented at the school board meeting. Students are also asked to fill out this form by March 19 to indicate whether they will be attending school remotely or in-person.