District 65 schools will open for hybrid learning on Feb.16, Superintendent Devon Horton announced yesterday. He said the decision was made “as a result of extensive planning efforts with involvement from all employee groups, a robust health and safety plan, improving health conditions, and data on safe school re-openings.”

The Hybrid Model

The in-person model has changed since it was presented before the start of the school year. The current hybrid model for the K-5 schools differs from that provided for the middle schools. The model also differs depending on whether a student has “priority flags.”

All students will engage in remote learning for the entire school day on Mondays. For Tuesdays through Fridays, the model provides:

  • ·      K-5 students whose parents indicated a preference for in-person learning will attend half-day sessions in-person on Tuesdays-Fridays, either a morning or afternoon session. They will attend the remainder of the instructional day in remote synchronous and asynchronous learning (including math and literacy practice, PE, Fine Arts, Science/Social Studies).
  • ·      If K-5 students have three priority flags, they will have full day in-person learning with an in-person session in the morning and supervision for asynchronous learning in the afternoon on Tuesdays-Fridays.
  • ·      Students in grades 6-8 with one or more priority flags will have full-day in-person learning on Tuesdays -Fridays. Students whose family indicated a preference for remote learning or who do not have any priority flags will have remote learning.

There are some variations for the middle schools.

A District 65 document referenced in a Dec. 10 letter to the community says, “District 65 priority flags include students with an IEP or 504 plans; Emergent Bilinguals; eligibility for free and reduced price meals; students in transitional living situations; or students in early childhood, kindergarten, first, or second grade.”

The Metrics

Dr. Horton said that hybrid learning will continue in effect “as long as the test positivity rate (rolling 7-day average) is less than 12% in Region 10 [Suburban Cook County] and locally. If Region 10 enters Phase 3 mitigation due to substantial community spread, this will also require an adaptive pause and district-wide pivot back to remote learning. Region 10 will continue to be used knowing that many staff live outside of our community.”

Dr. Horton added, “We will continue to keep a very close eye on community spread. Whether it be from familiar strains or the new UK strain now found in Illinois, if community spread exceeds the threshold set forth, we will not hesitate to pivot back to remote learning.”

In addition to the test positivity rate, the metrics being used by the District provide that the District may revert to remote learning based upon, “Advisement by the Evanston Health and Human Services Department and/or Skokie Health Department to suspend in-person learning for any public health-related reason; inability to sustain staffing directly associated with classrooms; inadequate access to PPE and cleaning materials; or inability to sustain evolving health protocols and guidance.”

On Jan. 28 at 6 p.m. the District will host a virtual forum to discuss the launch of the hybrid learning model, calendar changes, health and safety measures, metrics, overview of what the school day looks like in various grade levels, and more. Spanish interpretation will be provided, and the forum will be recorded. (Event details)