Geneva middle schools prepare for new year in midst of pandemic

Social distancing, assigned lunch seats, wearing masks all laid out

GENEVA – Geneva Middle Schools North and South are preparing for a new school year with lots of new rules and expectations.

Students who will be in the hybrid teaching schedule will have assigned seating for lunch periods. Their food choices – from a limited menu – will be delivered to their tables and they will be encouraged to “eat quickly to allow them to go outside and interact with their friends at a safe distance for the remainder of the lunch period.”

Students will move from class to class following a typical schedule. But between class periods the desks will be cleaned with soap and water with the teachers and students working together to accomplish this.

Information about the hybrid teaching and remote schedule, as well as how school will function in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, were all laid out for both middle schools in a letter from Geneva Middle School North Principal Brenna Westerhoff.

School starts Aug. 19 in Geneva District 304.


The in-class hybrid plan is where students with last names from A to K will attend Monday, Wednesday and alternating Fridays and students with last names from L to Z will attend Tuesday, Thursday and alternating Fridays.

With the alternate day schedule, children will come to school and follow a typical schedule on their assigned days. On their offsite days, they will complete the work that was assigned by the teacher when they were in person, Westerhoff’s letter stated.

Offsite students will have similar schedules compared to their onsite peers.

Each core team teacher will teach a section virtually each day while also managing four classes in person.

This will allow students who need to be completely “remote” to have an experience similar to those students who are in person, according to her letter.

“The great thing about our plan is that we believe it will allow the students that may need to quarantine at home for two weeks to still access the same teachers to allow for a smooth transition back to school,” Westerhoff’s letter stated.

Masks required

Students and teachers will wear masks during the school day, except when eating lunch.

The cafeteria will be divided into two spaces that can accommodate 49 students and a supervisor in each space while maintaining the six-foot rule.

Students will sit in assigned seats that will be determined on the first day of lunch and specific locations at each table where the students must sit in order to maintain social distancing.

Extra furniture has been removed from the classrooms to create as much distance as possible between students to meet the goal of six feet.

Students will be encouraged to use hand sanitizer upon entry and exiting of classrooms.

Students will be issued lockers, but all students will be asked to carry a backpack during the day in order to minimize hallway traffic.

Students can leave things like extra shoes for PE, their lunches or other similar things in their locker and visit at the beginning of the day, lunch and before or after PE, if needed.

Students to wear PE clothes to school

For the time being, students will not change for PE or have a PE locker issued to them, as the district will hold onto all PE uniforms that were ordered and distribute them when the time comes.

Students will be encouraged to wear PE appropriate shoes and clothes on a daily basis. Refunds will be issued at the end of the year if the uniforms never get distributed.

Students will be allowed to enter the building immediately upon bus arrival in order to minimize them congregating in front of the building.

Hallway traffic will be structured to decrease the amount of time students are passing other students in the hallway.

Custodial staff will be routinely sanitizing common areas of the building like the bathrooms and handrails on the stairs during the school day, according to Westerhoff’s letter.

The regular water fountains will be turned off, but the water refill stations will be on. Students are encouraged to bring a water bottle with a good seal to school, Westerhoff’s letter stated.

All middle school fall events are canceled. This includes Back to School Night, 6th Grade Partners Day, the Jivin’ Geneva and similar events – but the sixth grade play is being scheduled for May in the hopes of being able to have a live performance again.