The Board of Education discussing the agenda.
Screencap taken from livestream of Sept. 28 meeting

On Sept. 28, the SD308 board held a meeting where they proposed their updated plan for bringing students back to school after going completely remote due to the spread of COVID-19.

Many viewpoints were accounted for during the creation of this plan, as the district strove to please as many people as possible.  

“It was all encompassing. It was comprehensive,” Oswego High School Principal Chris Grays stated. “It involved voices from a lot of the staff and administration.”

More specifically speaking, the proposed plan has students come back gradually instead of all at once. 

“It’s a phased in approach,” Superintendent John Sparlin said. “We’re going to start with our special education students, then our early childhood, and then go to our elementary students, and then eventually our secondary. It’s a phased in rollout.”

The plan presented to the board would go into effect on Dec. 3 and consists of a mix of in-person and remote learning.  In this plan, school days, with the exception of Wednesday, are broken into two halves, the first with all students remote and the second with half of the school in the building. There is a 55 minute break in between these sections to allow for transportation to the building. The half that goes in the building for the afternoon alternates each day, as well as the order of classes. For more information, refer to the presentation from the meeting.

The planning for this proposal was not easy. The SD308 board started to think of ways to go back to school once remote-for-all began.

“There are 852 school districts in the state of Illinois, and Oswego 308 is the seventh largest,” Sparlin said. “It’s very complex when we have to plan from three-year-olds in preschool all the way to 22-year-olds.”

The main concern surrounding the proposed plan involves the budget issues that have been impacting SD308 for several years. However, Grays doesn’t foresee this being a problem.

“Finances were talked about at the board meeting,” he said. “I think just making sure that we have appropriate funding and resources to ensure that we have a safe environment is not really something that I’m concerned about.”

He feels that if the budget won’t allow for a safe and healthy return, then there simply won’t be one. 

“My bottom line is that everyone has to be safe,” Grays said.

The proposed plan was met with mixed reactions by the OHS community. Grays acknowledges that it will be impossible to please everyone. 

“Whenever you make decisions like this you’re gonna have 50-50. 50% of people are going to like it and 50% of people are not going to like it,” Grays said. “That’s just life.”

The school board has yet to vote on this plan, but Grays believes that it will be approved. “If I had to take a guess, I would say yes,” he said. 

The vote will take place at the school board meeting on Oct. 13.

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