Bull’s Board Corner: March 15


Photo provided by District 99

EARLY RELEASE SCHEDULE: the schedule that will be implemented starting April 6 after spring break.

Sam Bull, Editor-in-Chief

Hey, students. This is a series of news updates by me, Omega Editor-in-Chief and District 99 Board of Education Student Representative Sam Bull, that is designed to inform you, the DGN student body, of the most relevant changes, decisions, and updates from the most recent Board of Education meeting. In other words: this is exactly what you need to know from every Board meeting.

This Board meeting mainly consisted of a discussion and then approval of the new early release schedule for after spring break. Here’s what you need to know: 


2020-2021 School Year Update: 

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) released new guidance March 9 for re-opening schools, which featured several major changes when compared to older guidance. This new information was used in the creation of the new District 99 schedule, and many of the observable differences in the early release schedule in comparison to the current schedule are based on this new IDPH guidance.

A major change regarding the new schedule is that community transmission metrics as a decision factor for returning to school will not be considered at the school level, meaning that the main factors of whether we stay in school or go on an “adaptive pause” would be things like outbreaks at school. 

In other words, District 99 will no longer be relying on the second-semester dashboard to determine if we stay in school—we will stay in school unless there are other factors the district deems too unsafe or new guidance from health departments is brought forth.

Other key changes outlined in the guidance that will be implemented in this new schedule include face shields, symptom-checking slips, and saliva screenings becoming optional (which actually starts tomorrow, March 17), social distancing between students and fully vaccinated teachers now being defined as “3-6 feet,” the 50-person limit per space being changed to “the space’s ability to accommodate social distancing,” and recommendations being made to quarantine for seven days if tested or for 10 days if not tested if a student is returning a vacation in which they did not follow safety guidelines.

The schedule itself consists of four days of full in-person attendance (no more groups A and B) for four 70-minute block classes as well as a fully remote Monday. Mondays will be 9:25 a.m. to 3:20 p.m. with eight 40-minute remote class periods, 5-minute passing periods and no long break like in previous schedules. Students may just eat lunch during the lunch period when they have a class off.

In-person students will then attend school Tuesday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 1:20 p.m. Each of the four blocks will be 70 minutes in length with 10-minute passing periods in between. The third block of every day will also include a 10-minute voluntary “snack break” where students will be able to spread out and eat a snack using the available space in and around the classroom.

To minimize free periods falling in the middle of the day when students will not feasibly be able to go home, the lunch periods (4, 5, and 6) have been moved to the beginning and end of the daily block schedules. This means that the schedule on Tuesdays and Thursdays, in order, will be 1, 3, 7, 5 and Wednesdays and Fridays will be 4, 2, 8, 6. 

Students will also be able to connect with teachers for virtual support on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 2:10 to 3:20 p.m. Tuesdays and Fridays after school are reserved for professional learning for teachers.

There will also be a “lunch” period after school for students to eat a full meal and stay at school before an after-school practice or extracurricular activity so that they don’t need to go all the way home and then return for a practice at 3:30 p.m., for example.

An email sent out by District 99 March 16 provides additional information, stating that, “Students choosing in-person learning will be expected to attend all of their classes in person and will not have the ability to choose a learning model by class period. However, if students have transportation, they are allowed to arrive late/leave early when it is their lunch period.”

“Space will be provided for students to study should they want/need to be at school during their lunch period or any other free period,” it continues. “Students may change their learning model after spring break by contacting their counselor.”

The email also provides a link to a survey for choosing the in-person or remote learning model that all families are asked to complete by March 19

To view the PowerPoint from last night outlining the schedule in detail, click here. To view the live stream, which includes the PowerPoint as well as Superintendent Hank Thiele’s presentation of it, click here.