The Prairie Grove School District 46 board approved a plan at Tuesday night's special board meeting to give its own superintendent the power to implement a new learning platform that will have some students returning to the school's building, starting with the youngest students, beginning on Oct. 13.
The hybrid plan, presented by Superintendent John Bute, will have early childhood and pre-K through second grade students will begin hybrid on Oct. 13, while third through fifth grade will start the new schedule on Oct.26 and sixth through eighth grade will begin Nov. 10.
"We want to start on the smaller scale and we want to start with the students who we believe are the most vulnerable [learning remotely]," Bute said.
Bute said it was essential for the younger students to be given hands-on opportunities and the chance to interact with teachers. Board members asked Bute to do his best to expedite the process of returning the rest of the student population to school after the youngest students begin on Oct. 13.
The junior high's return is set to correlate with the beginning of the new trimester and a change of teachers, Bute said.
Bute said that 39% of parents in the elementary school and 37% of junior high parents elected to have their children remain home in a virtual learning plan.
With the plan, face masks must be worn at all times while indoors, classrooms will have students 6 feet apart, and staff and parents, on their children’s behalf, will need to self-certify daily that they are symptom-free before entering the school building.
Data the district used as part of its decision-making process, according to the agenda, included information from the McHenry County Department of Health and Illinois Department of Public Health.
The McHenry County health department plans to announce its full metrics recommendation for schools on Wednesday after a follow-up meeting with the county's school superintendents.
A draft version of these metrics was included in District 46’s agenda, including a 5-8% test positivity rate, and a 7 to 14 positive case per 100,000 people per day incidence rate. To go to a fully in-person learning model, the positivity rate would have to be less than 5%, with less than 7 positive cases per 100,000 people per day.
• Previous reporting from reporter Cassie Buchman was included in this story