School District 158 plans to start voluntary in-person learning February 25

By Josh Bootsma

LANSING, Ill. (December 25, 2020) – The Lansing School District 158 Board voted unanimously on December 16 to adopt a third phase to its e-learning and reopening plan that will allow district schools to use a hybrid model to bring students back to school. Families that want to return to in-person school may be able to do so as early as February 25, 2021.

In a letter to parents last week, District 158 Superintendent Dr. Nathan Schilling asked families to examine phase three of the e-learning and reopening plan in its entirety, and submit questions to the district by January 8. He said responses to the frequently asked questions would be made available on January 15. “Parents will then be given until Friday, January 22 to determine if you would like your student(s) to remain
at home for e-Learning for the rest of the school year or return onsite under our Phase III guidelines,” he said in the letter.

District 158 Superintendent Nathan Schilling addresses parental concerns about e-learning in a Facebook broadcast over the summer. (Photo: screenshot of District 158 Facebook page video)

The phase three e-learning and reopening plan for District 158 is available here. Questions can be submitted here.

Overview of the plan

The plan outlines a hybrid model of learning where some students will learn on campus while other students learn remotely. Which students come back to campus is up to parents’ choices.

The phase three plan will maintain Monday as a “check-in/make-up” day for both in-person and remote learners.

In-person students will come to school from 8:45–11:15 a.m. on Tuesday–Friday. The students will then return home and continue the rest of their school day remotely, completing assignments and doing other independent work from 12:15–2:45 p.m.

Remote students will use the 8:45–11:15 a.m. time to complete assignments and do independent work before attending class virtually with a teacher from 12:15–2:45 p.m.

District 158
The schedule for in-person and remote students, which will be implemented as soon as February 25. (Screenshot from school plan document)

Transition details are also included in the plan, and outline the procedure for a student to transition to remote learning due to COVID-19 or other concerns.

The February 25 date to implement the plan is a tentative one, and is subject to change based on the COVID-19 climate nearer to that date.

What will in-person be like?

Though going back to in-person school may sound like a return to semi-normal for some families, school will look significantly different under the phase three plan. A list of policies and procedures is included below. To view the plan in its entirety, click here.

  • School buses will not be available in phase three. Families will need to establish their own transportation plans for in-person students.
  • Masks will be required for staff and students in District 158 buildings. The plan states, “Students who refuse to wear a face mask will be removed from class and not allowed to participate in in-person instruction.”
  • “Daily health certifications” will be required for students.
  • Each student will be given “a tri-fold clear divider to use on their desks throughout the day.” These dividers will remain in the classroom and be regularly sanitized.
  • Desks in classrooms will be placed at least six feet apart, though the plan admits, “maintaining six feet of social distancing will be a challenge during the in-person model.”
  • Sanitation stations with hand sanitizer will be available throughout the school building.
  • “Traditional outdoor recess with equipment (balls, jump ropes, playground equipment, etc.) will not occur at this time,” the plan says. Instead, students will be encouraged to participate in “touch-free movement activities” throughout their time on school grounds.
  • Students will receive a school breakfast and lunch at the end of in-person learning each day (11:15 a.m.), neither of which should be eaten at school. The lunch is intended for students to eat after leaving school that day, and the breakfast is intended for students to eat the next morning.
  • Water fountains will be unavailable.
  • Locker usage will be restricted, and locker policies will be established on a school-by-school basis.
  • A room separate from the nurse’s office will be set up in each school for students who are feeling ill and exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms.
  • “Operational procedures at each school will be analyzed with the intent to reduce student transitions (if possible). If transitions cannot be reduced or eliminated, schools may look to stagger transition times to aid in social distancing efforts,” the plan says.
  • Arrival and dismissal protocols will be established on a school-by-school basis to limit crowded hallways and doorways. Parents will be asked to remain in vehicles during pick-up
  • Students who are unable to come to school due to a possible COVID-19 exposure will attend school virtually using the remote model.
  • School visitors will be limited. Essential visitors will wear masks.
  • No field trips will occur.

Additional information about the plan, including curriculum implementation, health guidelines, and sanitization guidance can be viewed here. Further guidelines from each school are expected in the future.

Questions about the plan can be submitted to District 158 here before Friday, January 8.

District 158 incorporates Memorial Junior High School, located at 2721 Ridge Road; Calvin Coolidge Elementary School located at 17845 Henry Street; Oak Glen Elementary School, located at 2101 182nd Street; Reavis Elementary School, located at 17121 Roy Street; and Lester Crawl Primary School, located at 18300 Greenbay Avenue. District offices are also located at 18300 Greenbay Avenue.

The District 158 Administration Center is located at 18300 Greenbay Avenue in Lansing, Illinois. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)