Unit 5 implements 4-day in-person learning

NCHS students are taking advantage of the outdoor seating option offered for social distancing.

Superintendent Dr. Kristen Weikle announced in an email to Unit 5 families that four-day in-person instruction for 6-12th graders will begin on Monday, April 5.

The email, sent Monday, March 8, lays out the plan to replace the two-day-a-week hybrid model Unit 5 junior high and high schools began implementing in Oct.

To request a change from hybrid to remote learning before four-day instruction begins, families must contact their student’s school office by Friday, March 12.

Remote learners may not switch to in-person learning since the district’s four-day plan was made based on current classroom capacities.

Dr. Weikle’s announcement said returning to four-day in-person learning would benefit students by providing an increased sense of normality.

While “safety has always been our overriding concern,” Dr. Weikle said, “we know that most students do better academically and social-emotionally when attending school in person.”

The change comes as a response to decreasing positivity rates in McLean County. The district feels prepared to implement the adjustment as “vaccines are more readily available to educators,” Dr. Weikle said.

The email reinforced the COVID protocols and safety measures already in place in the district, emphasizing the importance of wearing masks, hand washing, and disinfecting high-touch surfaces.

The email also included information on the District’s air quality plan and ventilation, “another mitigation strategy to reduce the spread of COVID” in use.

The system works to ventilate the air students and staff breath further during the school day; scheduled air purges will decrease airborne contaminants.

With decreased space between students in classrooms, Weikle noted that “there is a greater likelihood that your student may have to quarantine at some point.”

With the majority of hybrid students expected to return to school four days, it is estimated that students’ desks will be spaced 2-5 feet apart.

“84 percent of our 6-12 families reported they want their student(s) to attend school four days a week this school year,” Dr. Weikle said, as collected from a 2,800 participant survey of secondary families, “and 80 percent were comfortable with 2-5 feet between students.”

“Unit 5 will continue to closely monitor school and local metrics,” Dr. Weikle said.