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Local News

Oswego School District reopening plan calls for gradual return of students, teachers to classrooms

The Oswego School District 308 Board of Education was presented with the district administration's proposal for returning students and teachers to classroom during the COVID-19 pandemic at its Sept. 28 meeting.
The Oswego School District 308 Board of Education was presented with the district administration's proposal for returning students and teachers to classroom during the COVID-19 pandemic at its Sept. 28 meeting.

Oswego School District 308 administrators presented their plan to the Board of Education Monday evening, Sept. 28, to gradually return students and teacher to classrooms amid the continuing COVID-19 pandemic.

The Board voted 5-2 Aug. 3 to start the 2020-2021 school year Aug. 24 under a "Remote For All" plan for the district's teachers and 16,800 students due to the pandemic. The Board, however, also agreed to review the status of the fully remote program after six weeks.

The Board took no action on the administration's four stage plan to reopen schools during Monday evening's meeting. However, the Board is expected to consider a vote on the plan during their next regular meeting set for 7:30 p.m., Oct. 13 in the Community Room at Oswego East High School.

As presented, the reopening plan is reliant on several factors including: Local and regional metrics, the availability of PPE, whether the district has adequate staffing levels to provide in-person education, exclusion and isolation requirements, and revised guidance from state and local health departments.

The plan features four stages: In Stage One, the district is fully remote with no staff or students in the building, Stage Two - the stage the district is currently in - has some staff in buildings, with related services provided to students. In Stage Two, sports and training are allowed with IHSA guidelines, and individual programs and classes are in attendance for partial days, with Special Education students and the youngest grades prioritized to return to the classroom first.

In Stage Three, called "Hybrid & Remote by Choice", in-person learning is offered at all grade levels, with all staff in buildings. Students are offered the option of remote learning "by choice," with limited gatherings allowed, and sports and training continuing under IHSA guidelines.

When students return to the classroom in Stages Two and Three, they will be part of a hybrid schedule involving in-school and remote learn

Stage Four is "Full Reopening" with all staff and students learning in-person, with all activities resumed.

Each stage also includes requirements in weekly new cases, positivity rate, PPE stock, and availability of staff for in-person education.

The plan also lists the priorities the district administrators examined when creating the plan including minimizing the health risk for staff and students, maximizing in-person instruction and family choice.

A daily form for parents to self-certify their child's health will be available through the district's Tyler communication program prior to the start of each school day. If a student's form is not submitted, or a parent or guardian chooses not to complete their form, the student will have their temperature and screening check completed by a staff member.

As the district progresses through the stages, two options for learning will be offered to students and families before the district is fully reopened. Families will again have the chance to choose between in-person instruction and remote learning.

Currently, the district is in "Stage Two" of its plan with all students involved in remote learning, except those with related services.

The first students offered the ability to be involved in in-person education are students in the district's Cross-categorical, STARS, ISP, LSP, SKILLS, DHH, EVA, and Pathways Transition program at all grade levels. If the district's plan is approved, these students would return to the classroom beginning in the week of Oct. 19. Information will be posted to the district's website for parents and families on Sept. 29 and Oct. 1.

The presentation proposes entering Stage Three on Nov. 9, giving students in Early Childhood up through fifth grade the chance for in-person education. Students in sixth grade through twelfth grade will have the chance Dec. 3, with orientation for sixth graders and freshmen on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1, respectively.

No date was given for the district to enter Stage Four and be deemed "Fully Reopened."

The staff members associated with each group would return to school with their respective group of grades.

Parents and families will be asked to complete a form indicating their choice for in-person or remote learning. If families do not complete and submit the form, the district will assume that the child will be attending school in-person.

The form for self-contained and special education students will be sent to families Sept. 29, and is due Oct. 6. Elementary students and the remaining early childhood students, as well as junior high and high school students will all receive their form Oct. 14, and it will be due Oct. 21.

The full plan, including sample schedules for students, is available through the district's BoardDocs account, available through the OSD 308 website.

The Board of Education will next meet at 7:30 p.m., Oct. 13, at Oswego East High School.

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