DeKalb High School May 30, 2018
DeKalb High School May 30, 2018

DeKALB – "Clear as mud" and "a moving target," were two of the phrases used to describe what the fall 2020 semester could look like for District 428 during Tuesday's school board meeting.

When it comes to what the start of the 2020-2021 school year will look like, DeKalb District 428 superintendent Jamie Craven and school board members stressed how fluid the situation was during a presentation on a re-entry plan for August.

However, later in the meeting, Craven said he had a hunch that at some point, in some form, remote learning would become a norm again during the school year.

"If I were a betting man, and I'm not, but I'd say at some point in the school year, maybe August, or November, or the holidays, we'll be back in a remote learning environment," said Craven, who is leaving as superintendent at the end of June. "I can't predict the future any better than anyone else here. But I think if we see another spike they're going to work quicker to flatten it."

His comments came up during a discussion on purchasing Lenovo tablet devices for K-2 classrooms that can also be used for remote learning, at a cost of just more than $650,000.

It passed 7-0.

During the re-entry discussion, no specific plans were laid out as Director of Student Services Cristy Meyer and School Psychologist Kyle Gerdes focused on the social-emotional side of things.

"We're starting to get more and more organizations that are putting out guidelines," said Gerdes, a school counselor in the district. "It's still a fluid process as we're getting more information."

Craven again stressed the three general planning points - a full return to in-person classes, remote learning or a hybrid of the two.

After the presentation, board member Jeff Hallgren pushed for specifics on what the hybrid would look like, as he said he felt that had the least amount presented and the most questions.

Craven said that the superintendents across northern Illinois have put together a list of questions to think about going into the school year, and that list is already 13 pages long, describing the re-entry as having many variables.

He used school buses as an example.

"The answer is as clear as mud," he said. "Just look at school buses. On a 71 passenger bus, if we're going to seat students 4.5 feet apart, we can get 13 students and a driver on the bus. And that's not even the full 6 feet. So transportation, getting students from point A to school is the first big challenge."

The district provides bus service to an estimated 4,500 students per day.

There was also talk on whether starting in early August was a possibility, and Craven pointed out the difficulties in that, including needing approval from the union and a construction project at Clinton Rosette.

"I haven't heard of any school district move their start earlier," Craven said. "Universities yes, but not school districts."

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