School reopening tracker: Illinois districts start backtracking on hybrid plans

We’re tracking tentative reopening plans for Illinois school districts. Find our updated list here.

Two preschool children work at a puzzle table in Chicago.
Two preschool children work at a puzzle table in Chicago. (Cassie Walker Burke / Chalkbeat)

After abruptly closing in March at the height of the coronavirus pandemic, Illinois school districts are starting to release fall reopening plans. State guidance gives school districts flexibility, but questions abound — and leaders are expected to balance public health guidelines and educate students safely without additional money from the state. 

In these unprecedented times, Chalkbeat is tracking school reopening news in the Chicago metro region and in the state’s largest districts. Don’t see your district listed? Write to us at chicago.tips@chalkbeat.org.

Thursday, July 23

As coronavirus cases rise throughout the state, Illinois school districts have started revising  their reopening plans. 

The state board of education’s mid-June guidance gave districts the flexibility to offer in-person instruction and remote learning days in case  of a COVID-19 resurgence. So far, many school districts’ plans included hybrid learning models and an option for parents to opt- out of in-person instruction. 

But with cases on the rise, and as teachers and families respond to tentative reopening plans with criticism, districts are going back to the drawing board — and doing it just weeks before August start dates in some places.

So far, Elgin School District U-46, Stevenson High School District 125, Evanston School District 202 were all planning for hybrid learning, but will now start the school year with remote learning. River Forest School District 90 planned to have in-person days; leaders  are reconsidering because of pushback from teachers and students. 

Whether this new trend will occur across the state is yet to be known. Here is the latest round of plans:

Evergreen Park Elementary School District 124, in the south suburbs of Chicago, will offer families a choice between remote and in-person instruction full-time. Students who opt into remote learning must commit for the first semester, but those who opt into in-person learning can later move to remote learning.

Calumet Public School District 132, in the south suburbs of Chicago, will continue with remote learning in the fall. 

Wheaton-Warrenville Community School District 200, in the western suburbs of Chicago, announced that early childhood, elementary school and students will receive daily in-person instruction. Middle and high school students will follow a hybrid learning model. Students of all ages can opt into e-learning. 

Arlington Heights Township High School 214, in the northwest suburbs of Chicago, plans for students to attend in-person classes five days a week. Students can attend classes in a remote setting. The district has installed a voice amplification and video camera system in instructional spaces. 

River Forest School District 90, in the western suburbs of Chicago, had planned for elementary school students to attend full-time in-person classes and for middle school students to attend a hybrid of in-person and remote classes. But after pushback from teachers and parents against in-person instruction, the school board has announced it will reconsider the district’s reopening plan.

Wednesday, July 22

Plainfield School District 202, one of the state’s largest districts, planned to start the school year with all remote learning. That plan failed to pass at Monday’s board meeting. The next meeting is scheduled for Aug. 17. School is scheduled to start in late August.

Evanston/Skokie School District 65 plans for to start the school year with remote instruction through at least September 28. If conditions permit, students who choose will transition to a hybrid learning model. Educators will receive toolkits around social and emotional learning to use in daily activities with students. The district also plans to assign bus aides to supervise assigned seating.

Tuesday, July 21

Elgin School District U-46, the second largest district in the state, will start the school year with remote classes and plans to transition to a hybrid learning model after Oct. 9. The first day has also been pushed back by nearly two weeks. The district is working with after-school service providers to offer childcare programs. Earlier this month, the superintendent said the district was planning to start school with a hybrid learning model.

Elmhurst School District 205, in the west suburbs of Chicago, plans to reopen all eight elementary schools for in-person classes on Aug. 24. Middle school and high school students will be in school buildings two days a week. Parents can opt out of in person learning or busing. Remote learning will be synchronous. 

Stevenson High School District 125, in the northwest suburbs of Chicago, plans to continue remote learning in the fall. Small groups of students will be allowed on campus for special education services, sports and club activities. As early as last week, the district had planned for a hybrid learning option.

Springfield School District 186 will offer families a choice between hybrid and all remote learning. Pre-kindergarten students will attend in-person classes four days a week. Elementary, middle and high school students could be in school buildings anywhere from two to four days a week, depending on enrollment numbers.

Monday, July 20

Evanston Township High School District 202 will begin remote classes on August 17 until further notice. The district reversed its earlier plans to offer a hybrid learning model. The superintendent has emphasized fall classes will challenge students and will not be a continuation of the spring.

Franklin Park School District 84, in the west suburbs of Chicago, will offer hybrid learning, where students will alternate between in-person and remote learning. D84 is partnering with the local park district to provide remote learning in a supervised format. The park district will offer an inexpensive remote learning day camp during school hours, as well as a childcare option in the late afternoon.

Barrington School District 220, in the northwest suburbs of Chicago, is giving parents an option between in-person and remote learning for the fall. Students who opt into in-person classes will be provided with two masks. The superintendent has also suggested a possibility of tents outside the building so students can take a break from wearing masks all day.

Lincolnshire District 103, in the northwest suburbs of Chicago, will offer families an option between all remote classes and in-person classes five days a week. 

Schaumburg Community Consolidated School District 54, in the northwest suburbs of Chicago, is asking families to choose between in-person and remote instruction. School nurses will review the circumstances of students with chronic medical conditions. English learners will continue to meet virtually.

Friday, July 17

Chicago Public School School District 299 plans for pre-kindergarten and some special education students to take in-person classes full time. High school juniors and seniors will take all their classes online, while other students will participate in hybrid learning. Students will be grouped into “pods” of about 15 and will be in the school building two days a week. All can also opt out of in-person learning.

Downers Grove School District 58 tentatively plans for all students to be in school buildings five days a week. Students will be grouped into cohorts of 14 to 19 students, on the basis of factors like special needs, accelerated placement and foreign language. The district is developing an online learning option for students.

Valley View Community Unit School District 365U is planning for a hybrid of remote and in-person learning, with an option for remote learning.

Lincoln-Way Community High School District 210 plans for a blended learning model, where school days will be shortened and classes will operate on A/B schedule. Students will take both asynchronous and synchronous learning. Families can also opt out of blended learning.

Thursday, July 16

Rockford Public Schools District 205, plans for some in-person classes and some remote classes. Pre-kindergarten students will attend in-person classes full-time, with a remote option only available to children with medical exemptions. Elementary school students can either attend in-person classes five days a week or all virtual classes. Middle and high school students can either opt into a hybrid model or all remote instruction. 

Plainfield District 202, which serves over 26,000 students, plans to start the school year on Aug. 24 with all remote learning and could transition into hybrid learning, if COVID-19 numbers improve.

Oswego School District 308, in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, has planned a return to school based on grade levels. Pre-school, elementary and junior high school students will take in-person classes five days a week, with shortened school days. High school students will follow a hybrid learning model. Students of all grade levels can select a remote learning option.  Elementary schools will also offer a daycare program.

Will County School District 92 will offer families a choice between all remote learning or a hybrid of in-person and remote learning. Students who participate in the hybrid model will attend in-person classes two days a week. All students will take remote classes once a week, in order for schools to do a deep clean.

Leyden Consolidated High School District 212 is planning for hybrid learning in the fall. Students will be split into two groups and will attend school for half days two days a week. Schools will closed on Wednesdays and on weekends for deep cleaning.

Wednesday, July 15

New Trier Township High School District 203, in Northfield, will offer blended learning, with the school day extended by 15 minutes to give students and teachers more flexibility. All classrooms will have plexiglass barriers, should teachers need to confer with students closer than six feet. The district will resume in-person instruction through a phased increase in capacity, with all remote learning the first week and up to a fifty percent capacity by September 15.

Community Unit School District 300, based in Algonquin, plans to have in-person instruction in elementary and middle schools. The district will offer multiple periods for recess throughout the day for elementary school students. High school students will operate on an A/B schedule, with half of the students attending in-person on any given day. Families can opt into remote instruction by July 31.

Joliet Township High School District 204 will offer families a choice between remote learning and a hybrid learning model, where students attend in-person classes once a week. Students who need additional support can attend frequently.

Oak Park and River Forest High School plans for all students to participate in virtual learning, but are proposing a significantly different curriculum from the spring. 

Niles Township High School District 219 tentatively plans for students to start school with remote learning on August 17 but will phase students into the building after Labor Day as part of a hybrid learning model.

Tuesday, July 14

Naperville District 203, in the west suburbs of Chicago, plans to enroll students in a hybrid mode of instruction, where students will be split into A/B groups. Parents and guardians can opt students for full remote instruction, but must notify the district before July 22. Students eligible for transportation will be surveyed about ridership.

Indian Prairie District 204, in the west suburbs of Chicago, plans to operate on an A/B/C schedule where students will receive two days of in-person instruction and two days of remote instruction. Students with special needs can attend school four days a week. Parents can opt students into entirely remote instruction.

St. Charles Community Unit School District 303 tentatively plans to offer elementary school students full, in-person instruction with shortened school days. Middle school and high school students will receive a mix of in-person and remote learning.

Oak Park Elementary School District 97 will reopen school with a hybrid learning model. Students will be split into two groups and receive two days of in-person instruction. Students with IEPs can attend school all four days students are on campus. 

Monday, July 13

Barrington School District 220, in the northwest suburbs of Chicago, is offering families a choice between returning to in-person instruction and opting out to continue with remote learning. 

Glenbrook High School District 225, in the northern suburbs of Chicago, has tentatively suggested it will continue with virtual learning.

Northbrook/Glenview School District 30 is still working on their reopening plan, but expects to share their plans with the community Friday after the district’s board meeting on Thursday. 

Glenview School District 34 has been discussing the possibilities of in-person instruction, remote learning, and a hybrid option. The fall planning board will submit their recommendations to the district’s board of education Monday evening. 

North Shore School District 112, located in Highland Park, will reopen schools on September 30, two weeks later than planned. Details still need to be worked out, but Superintendent Michael Lubfeld has said the district hopes to “restart schools in-person to the extent possible.” The district plans to rent air conditioning units and tents for lunch and physical education classes. Bus services will be provided with capacity restrictions.

Belleville Township High School District 201 tentatively plans to operate in-person at half capacity. Students will be split into two groups, which will alternate between in-person and remote learning. Families can opt to continue with entirely remote learning for the semester.

O’Fallon Township High School District 203 will offer a hybrid of in-person and remote instruction in the mornings. Families choose to take all classes remotely. Students who are at-risk or struggle with remote learning could be invited to attend in-person classes all four days a week with administrative approval. 

Lisle Community Unit School District 202, in the west suburbs of Chicago, will return to school in the fall with in-person instruction five days a week. Classes will be split into groups of 10 to 15 students and the district will use two old facilities to help facilitate social distancing.

Community Consolidated School District 15, in the northwest suburbs of Chicago, has established tentative plans for the 2020-21 academic year on the basis of Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s Restore Illinois plan. If the state remains in Phase 4, parents can opt their children into either in-person instruction or remote learning. If the state retreats a phase, all instruction will be remote. 

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