It was nearly a year ago that school as we knew it changed for everyone. During that time our educators have done an incredible job of providing our Unit 5 students - both remote and in-person - with tremendous learning opportunities. I really appreciate the flexibility and support shown by Unit 5 families, and truly understand how challenging this year has been for everyone.
The fact is, we know that most students do better academically and social-emotionally when attending school in person but safety has always been our overriding concern. Recently we have seen lower positivity rates in McLean County, vaccines are more readily available to educators, and other local schools have had success with in-person learning. As a result of these circumstances, Unit 5 has made the decision to increase the amount of in-person learning days for junior high and high school students.
Here is the schedule to transition 6th through 12th grade students to attend in person 4 days a week:
Monday, March 29 - Will be a planning day and students in grades 6-12 will NOT have in-person or remote school that day. Students Pre-K-5 will follow a regular schedule and will have classes.
Tuesday, March 30 - All in-person 6th grade students will attend school and students in grades 7-12 will follow their hybrid schedule (meaning L-Z will be in person).
Wednesday, March 31 - Remote instructional day for 6-12 following the typical synchronous bell schedule.
Thursday, April 1 - All in-person 6th grade students will attend school and students in grades 7-12 will follow their hybrid schedule (meaning A-K will be in person).
Friday, April 2 - All schools are closed for a board holiday.
Monday, April 5 - All in-person learners in grades 6-12 will begin 4-days in person. Moving forward they will be in person on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays.
Each Wednesday will remain a remote instructional day for students in grades 6-12 so staff can focus and connect with their students who are fully remote.
**PreK-5th grade students are not impacted by this change.
It is important to note that throughout the pandemic, Unit 5 has worked closely with the McLean County Health Department. We have also worked with union leadership, as well as the Pandemic Advisory Committee.
Recently we surveyed our secondary families and more than 2,800 people participated in the survey. Based onsurvey results, Unit 5 expects almost 90 percent of hybrid students to continue in-person learning. Also notable in the survey, 84 percent of our 6-12 families reported they want their student(s) to attend school four days a week this school year, and 80 percent were comfortable with 2-5 feet between students. More than 85 percent of those responding also said attending four days a week would benefit their student socially, emotionally, and academically.
Most classrooms will have 2-5 feet between students. There may be exceptions to this depending on the number of students in the classroom and the size of the room. There is a greater likelihood that your student may have to quarantine at some point because we have more students in the classroom. Students who are found to be close contacts to a student or staff member who tests positive will be contacted by the school nurse and told they need to quarantine. Teachers will continue to have seating charts so that we can contact trace if and when needed. It is important to note that exposure is minimized when people wear masks, wash hands, and high touch surfaces are cleaned and disinfected, all of which is part of Unit 5’s plan. Air quality and ventilation is another mitigation strategy to reduce the spread of COVID (seeUnit 5’s air quality plan).
Families who want their current hybrid students to attend four days a week do not have to do anything. If you are not comfortable continuing to have your student attend in-person learning please contact your student’s school office directly to request a change to remote learning by Friday, March 12. Remaining hybrid (in a 2-day a week fashion) is NOT an option. No changes will be allowed from remote learning to in-person learning, due to the fact that decisions were made based on current classroom capacities.