A year since classes were canceled due to COVID-19, the DeKalb Public School District announced a return to full week in-person instruction. All grade levels will have the option beginning on March 30.
Last week, the Illinois State Board of Education reduced school social distancing from 6 feet to 3 feet. The move had a dramatic impact on the quest to return to in-person classes.
“It’s changed everything,” said one of DeKalb’s interim superintendents, Ray Lechner. He said bringing back everyone in-person every day without the rule change would have been very difficult just based on the limited space they have.
Teachers do need to be vaccinated as a part of the rule. Lechner said at least 98% of staff have had a shot.
“It opened up so much having a second dose for staff and the 3-foot distancing,” said Lechner. “Now we are definitely in the homestretch.”
The plan, for now, is to bring all grade levels back for half-day schedules, five days a week.
The district still needs to sort out how many students will stay remote vs. in-person. DeKalb’s other interim superintendent Griff Powell says approximately 30% of students could stay remote.
“Our survey results will help guide us in terms of our next steps,” he said, “when we find out how many parents are actually comfortable bringing their kids back to school.”
He said they’re starting with half days while they figure out how to safely hold lunches where students are unmasked.
The district says they’re still doing in-school testing for students with symptoms, which Lechner said can be more targeted towards students with teachers vaccinated.
Lechner said at this point he can’t say for sure, but he’s optimistic students could have full-day in-person instruction before the end of this school year.