Breaking news: Return plan includes earlier, shorter class times

Raven Easterly, In-depth Editor

School will start at 7 a.m. next week, rather than 8 a.m., as District 202 continues the plan to return students and staff to the building.

Beginning Jan. 19, school days will be shorter, ending at 11:15 a.m. and lunch will not be served in order to minimize the number of people without masks and better control the movement of students in buildings, as well as meet transportation schedules.

Assuming the number of COVID-19 cases stabilizes or improves, students whose parents have indicated they intend to return to in-person learning, which is currently 51% of students, will begin a hybrid schedule, having them in the classroom for two days and at home for three days. The rest of the students will remain in remote learning.

The hybrid schedule will allow freshmen students to return first on Feb. 1, and senior students to return on Feb. 8. All other high school students planning to return in the hybrid schedule will return on Feb. 16.

“We want to give seniors as much time in their schools and with friends as possible since it is their last year,” Dr. Lane Abrell, superintendent, said.

There will be two groups that students will be split into with the hybrid schedule. Group one will arrive at the school on Mondays and Tuesdays. Group two will arrive on Thursdays and Fridays. Wednesday will be a remote learning day for all students to allow deep cleaning of the building.

The groups will be composed in alphabetical order, students with last names A through K will be in group one and students L through Z will be in group two.

Students are concerned about the hybrid schedule due to the number of people who are wearing masks, but having their noses out or holding it on their chin.

“I think there needs to be a strict mask mandate,” Sam Danderson, senior, said. “I see too many people not wearing it correctly.”

With those concerns in mind, teachers have been given instructions on how to handle mask issues in the classroom, and students who are returning to the building will have to wear a mask correctly at all times in the building. Additionally, there are extra masks and hand sanitizer in every classroom.

“The plan requires students to self-certify if they come into the building to make sure they are free of COVID-like symptoms so we’re not putting any other people at risk,” Chris Chlebek, principal, said.

If any student develops symptoms while at school, there is an isolation room to keep them separate until a parent can pick them up.

With only about a quarter of students arriving at the building on hybrid days, students will not be charged to park in the school’s parking lots.

To help keep the cleanliness of the building, students will not be able to use lockers to drop off any items.

Some senior students are showing excitement to be able to get some sense of normalcy, being in the building and making connections with those around them.

“I am super excited to finally have some sort of social interaction with my peers and teachers,” Melissa Schmidt, senior, said. “It will definitely take some getting used to, but being a senior this year, it means a lot to me.”