District 58 plans to continue with hybrid model through second trimester

DOWNERS GROVE – About one week after Downers Grove Grade School District 58 resumed on-site instruction, the plan is to continue classes with hybrid and fully remote learning options through the end of the second trimester, district officials said at Monday’s school board meeting.

As such, no changes to the plan are anticipated through March 5.

Superintendent Kevin Russell said he believes the district’s metrics will remain steady with the resumption of on-site instruction under the hybrid learning model.

Russell said he’s not indicating that there’s a “risk-free environment,” but the district is doing well keeping students and staff safe.

Officials would like families to inform the district no later than Jan. 19. of any change in learning model preference for the second trimester.

The district last month decided to pause the implementation of its hybrid learning model through Jan. 5 to address staffing and logistical issues. Since then, several procedural changes have been identified.

Russell said the amount of time asymptomatic students need to quarantine if they come in close contact to a COVID-19 case was lowered by public health officials from 14 days to 6 if the requirements are met.

Temperature checks will no longer be conducted in the schools. The district will continue to require families to self-certify their students.

“All of that still has to take place at home,” Russell said.

He added that temperature checks have not proven to be effective and is taking away from instructional time.

“It really is an unreliable measurement,” he said. “The research is clear it doesn’t work.”

Justin Sisul, District 58′s assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, said officials are trying to remain proactive.

“We do need to continue to be prepared,” Sisul said.

The district has surveyed families about the process taken to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic and is reviewing what steps to take.

Officials have identified several areas the district intends to study for potential growth. They include building a break into the student and teacher day, increasing synchronous instruction and implementing temporary remote learning scenarios.

Sisul said that if the district decides it needs to implement changes to its learning model, it’s best to start them when the third trimester starts.

“It’s a really nice, clean place to make a change if we’re going to make a change at the beginning of third trimester,” Sisul said.

The district will review its plan again at the school board’s Feb. 22 meeting. At that point, officials will also review a report presented by the instructional planning committees highlighting opportunities for growth, strategies and timelines for implementation.