FILE PHOTO: Oswego High School students head to their classrooms during a passing period at the school.
FILE PHOTO: Oswego High School students head to their classrooms during a passing period at the school.

Oswego School District 308 administrators sent parents of students at all grade levels an online survey containing options for how their child's grade level could return to the classroom in the fall.

The survey was issued after the Illinois State Board of Education and Illinois Department of Public Health released guidelines for the 2020-2021 school year, adjusting learning for the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Guidance includes recommendations for communicating with district families, staff and student attendance, grading, and considerations for students with Individualized Education Plans (IEP).

Surveys are due to the district by noon, Thursday July 2, and are available through the district's website.

According to the guidelines, all public and non-public schools in Illinois, from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade must: "Require the use of appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) - including face coverings; prohibit more than 50 individuals from gathering in one space; require social distancing be observed as much as possible; require that schools conduct symptom screenings and temperature checks, or require that individuals self-certify that they are free of symptoms before entering school buildings; and require an increase in school-wide cleaning and disinfection."

"It is important to note that these requirements are subject to change pursuant to updated public health guidance and changing public health conditions. School leaders should remain alert for any updates," the ISBE document reads. "Schools and districts should also prepare for a return to remote instruction in the event of a resurgence of the virus or a second wave of it in the fall."

ISBE also recommended in the guidelines that districts provide "clear communication with students, families and staff about expectations and protocols for all schools."

OSD 308 created surveys for each level of education: Early Childhood, Elementary, Junior High and High School. Several surveys explained that the district anticipates that all self-contained special education classes including: STARS, Skills, Life Skills, Instructional Skills, Deaf and Hard of Hearing, and East View Academy will continue to come to school every day with "additional safety precautions."

Early childhood parents have two options on their surveys. The first would see all students come to school for the normal times of day, while the second would have students attend every other day, maximizing social distancing at school. While at home, students would participate in remote learning.

Elementary school parents are asked to specify whether or not their student has an IEP in their survey. They are given two options to choose from, where students would come to school for the full day with "some restrictions at lunch and recess time," making sure that no more than 50 students are in a room at a time. The second option would see students attend every other day to make class sizes smaller, and maximize social distancing. On alternating days, students would stay at home and participate in "extended learning" opportunities.

Junior high parents have two options. The first would see all students attend school each day, taking physical education through remote learning. Lunch would be part of an existing period, and occur in small groups. Each class period would meet for double the time on alternate days to eliminate passing periods where students would mix with each other. The second option for junior high would have students attend school on alternate days, and engage in remote learning while at home.

Oswego High School and Oswego East High School parents are not given multiple options like the other grade levels. As the survey explains, the number of students that attend each high school led to the singular plan.

Half of high school students would attend on alternating days, the survey explained. In between attendance days, students would engage in remote learning at home. An example provided in the survey explained that one group of students would attend on Tuesdays and Thursdays, while another would attend Wednesdays and Fridays. Each group would attend on alternating Mondays.

Elementary, junior high and high school parents are also given a third option to clarify that they support none of the options provided in their respective surveys. If that option is chosen, parents are asked if they intend to access daily remote education from an OSD 308 teacher who may not be their student's teacher.

Parents of elementary, junior high and high school students are also asked if they intend to use district transportation if they qualify, namely busing, as social distancing protocols will "greatly reduce" the capacity of the district's school buses.

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