Barrington, IL School Virus Plans

Jul15'2020 Barrington, IL has announced its plan for re-opening in the days of coronavirus.

Background: IL has a 5-phase model, which is generally summarized confusingly.

  • Phase 5 is "Restored" as in back-to-normal, which the gov says will only be supported if there's a vaccine or highly effective treatment widely available or the elimination of any new cases over a sustained period.
  • on Jun26 we "entered" Phase 4, "Revitalization", where everything, including schools, is opened but limited to gatherings of under 50.

Barrington's plan is

  • each family/student can decide whether to join in-school instruction or do distance learning
    • that's full-time every day, no staggering/rotation being used
    • so it's possible there would be 100% attendance in school! But really they're counting on that not happening
      • they'll tag chairs, assign seats in classrooms, to create distance
      • they're dumping round tables, using long tables, with alternating seats
      • but they're going to try to stagger "transition times" and lunch timing to maintain social distancing in the hallways and cafeteria. If you've seen how crowded the middle schools are, you've got to wonder how that's going to work.
      • and they'll tell students to stay 6ft apart in the bathrooms. Good luck with that.
      • PhysEd: no changing, no locker rooms; as much outside as possible; more emphasis on "movement" than sport
  • Distance Learning is completely distinct from in-school. If you choose Distance Learning, any given teacher might not even be from your school. So you lose contact with your class-mates.
  • Grading will return to pre-virus model, except that Distance Learners won't be able to Fail, the worst becomes Incomplete.
  • You have to decide by Jul24. Regardless of your decision, you can't change your mind until Winter break.
  • you can opt-in/out of the School Bus even if going to in-school. When we're still in Phase 4, buses will be limited to 50 riders. Does anyone think that meets social distancing rules?!?!

We will almost definitely choose Distance.

Details for our Middle School

  • enter-exit will be split by grade, to reduce traffic in entry-halls
  • students will move from class to class mostly, but almost always within-wing; in some cases teachers will move rooms while students stay still
  • no lockers, allow/require kids to carry everything with them

Alternatives? (focus: cap at 50% of capacity)

  1. alternate weeks, 50% of each class, every class is hybrid (the at-home people are in zoom alongside the in-class half)
  2. do online application/survey to identify people with greatest "need" to be in-class, identify clusters, come up with rules weighted by cluster (yeah, that's hand-wavey)
  3. drop/fake non-core classes (incl foreign language because masks raise issues), have multiple sessions of core classes (huge problem with non-core teachers having to cover core classes?)

Jul29: things have changed - district is going almost-all-Distance.

Aug04 school board meeting

  • 70% of families were planning on going in-person
  • but only 50% of faculty/staff wanted to come back (and contract protected them)
  • the state guidelines changed to really require 6ft distance at all times (incl hallway transitions). And cap "room" at 50 people, even if that's a cafeteria (and subdividing wouldn't meet fire regulations).
    • amazingly the state hasn't changed the 50-per-bus rule!
  • contact tracing was required but not available
  • no decision-tree prepared for decision-making
  • distance learning will be more serious than in the springtime - allowed to take attendance (in every period above elementary), give grades, etc.. Middle school details
    • 4hrs/day "synchronous", alternate days; then 2.5hrs/day doing async (homework)
    • Wed cover all 8 periods half-time-each
    • expect some trips to school to pick-up/drop-off materials
  • teachers will mostly be teaching from their classrooms, not from home
  • there will be some on-site opportunities - below seem like "possibilities" not fully baked
    • esp for starting transition years (9th graders, 6th graders, 1st graders);
    • guidance counselors
    • some science labs?
  • special-ed will be offered in-person whenever appropriate (IEP)

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