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Homewood schools target Feb. 16 for opening hybrid classes

The District 153 school board will conduct a special meeting on Monday, Feb. 1, to determine if schools can open Feb. 16 for hybrid learning.

The district has set out “checkpoints” for every two weeks. It missed the Jan. 7 target, so classes continued remotely. In a Tuesday, Jan. 19, checkpoint assessment, the numbers had administrators agree to continue the remote schedule.

But the COVID infection rates were coming down, giving administrators hope that the trend will continue and schools will open.

“If this progress continues, the administration will be recommending to the school board that we begin to phase-in our hybrid program on Feb. 16,” Superintendent Dale Mitchell said in a letter to parents dated Jan. 19.  

“We have several key indicators that we are considering, but a major one is our ability to staff our buildings. Currently, we have very few 153 staff members under mandatory quarantine,” Mitchell said. 

“Another key factor that is critical to our decision-making is the needs of our students. While we are very proud of our remote program, it is clear that 100% remote learning does not work for a significant number of our children, and we are looking forward to welcoming them back into our classrooms,” the superintendent said.

To make a decision, the district is taking guidance from local health departments and talking to other school districts about their decisions, as well as meeting with leadership teams in District 153.

”This input gives me confidence that we are well-prepared to welcome back students and staff safely into our buildings,” Mitchell said, adding that the district continues to follow guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Illinois State Board of Education.

Only about 35% of students are expected to be in the buildings for the hybrid schedule of morning classes. Mitchell said because of that low number, social distancing shouldn’t be a problem.

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