District 202 prepares for launch of hybrid-learning model


Illustration by Cynthia Zhang

Desks will be placed at least 6 feet apart and traffic cones will create two distinct travel lanes as ETHS opens for hybrid instruction Wednesday.

Wendy Klunk, Reporter

Evanston Township High School/District 202 officials and school board members prepared for the launch of the district’s hybrid learning model, which will begin Wednesday, at a Monday board meeting. 

As attendees discussed the return, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Pete Bavis emphasized the importance of engaging students who choose to remain fully remote. Those who select hybrid learning will attend one in-person session for each of their classes every other week, in accordance with a four-cohort block schedule. 

Teachers will simultaneously instruct students at home and in the classroom. In March, D202 teachers expressed concern about the new learning model and its potential impact on student learning and social-emotional health.

More than just mental well-being, Bavis said the district is also implementing physical wellness measures. Classrooms are arranged so all desks face the same direction and are spaced at least six feet apart. Traffic cones line the hallway to create two distinct lanes for travel.

Bavis said for the reopening to be successful, students and staff must complete a COVID-19 self-certification each time they enter the building.

“What is critically important to keeping our school open for students is accurate and honest self assessments on that screener every day,” Bavis said. “We have learned from other districts that dishonesty closes schools.”

While the district intends to provide complete in-person instruction in the fall, Assistant Superintendent/Principal Marcus Campbell said community members should expect a “new normal.” The district will implement multiple structural changes, including block scheduling and the removal of mandatory semester exams. Superintendent Eric Witherspoon also said PPE and enhanced cleaning protocols will likely still be required. 

ETHS science teacher and summer school director Bill Farmer said the district will provide robust summer instruction, whether in-person or remote. 

Highlighted in the conversation was the district’s plan to address families apprehensive of returning in-person, many of whom are families of color. Campbell said he will work closely with families to prioritize safety and comfort in this transition. 

Board member Monique Parsons said because of this apprehension, a successful spring reopening will be critical to gaining trust of many families across the district.

“Communities of color have to know that you’re doing everything you need to do to make the environment safe for them before they come back,” Parsons said. “Families will be watching… to see that by the time they make that decision in fall that everything has been done to make sure not only that they feel safe health-wise but that when their kids come back to school, that they will continue learning at the same rate, with the same enthusiasm that they did while they were at home e-learning.”

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Twitter: @WKlunk

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