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District 153 to outline plans Monday for return to schools 

Homewood District 153 board members on Monday will review a plan for students to return to Willow, Churchill and James Hart Schools for second semester work.

“We’re being encouraged by the state superintendent (of schools) and the governor’s office” to return to school,” Superintendent Dale Mitchell said. “We felt we needed to have a plan ready to go.”

The plan calls for in-person classes to resume Jan. 21, if the seven-day rolling average COVID-19 infection rate is below 8%. In the suburban Cook County area it is currently 15.6%.

The school board meeting will begin at 7 p.m. and be conducted by Zoom. A link is available through the district’s website at www.hsd153.org. Parents who wish to make a comment on board actions can submit questions via the website. The link will be open for 24-hours starting at 4 p.m. Sunday.

An outline of the plan was sent to parents Friday. The district administrative team, in consultation with the Homewood Education Association, has devised a plan that will serve students in school and those who will continue remote instruction. 

It has raised the ire of some parents because their child may not have the same teacher going forward. Mitchell told the Chronicle on Saturday that he’s heard from parents upset by the proposed changes, but the district is doing the best it can to meet the needs of teachers and students. 

Administrators have been studying four or five plans used by other districts. “We looked at all of them painstakingly for weeks and weeks” in devising and revising District 153 plans, the superintendent said. “Teachers, for the most part, want to see their students every day.” 

The plan calls for in-person learning for half a day. Teachers and students will meet all social distancing and safety guidelines.

The district’s last survey showed a 50/50 split among parents who want their children in school and those who prefer to continue with e-learning, Mitchell said. The district also is working to accommodate teachers who, due to health concerns and other issues, wish to continue teaching remotely.

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