District 186 students to return four days per week

Starting April 6, hybrid students to attend more in-person classes

Rachel Otwell

Starting Tuesday, April 6, students on the hybrid schedule in Springfield Public Schools will start four-day weekly schedules for in-person learning. Previously, hybrid students attended either Tuesdays and Thursdays or Wednesdays and Fridays. The new Tuesday-Friday schedule will be maintained until the end of the school year, according to an email sent to parents by District 186 Superintendent Jennifer Gill on March 24. Both remote and hybrid students learn independently on Mondays, which will continue.

“This increase of in-person days for hybrid learners is made possible by the reduced community spread along with guidance released on March 9, 2021. The Illinois Department of Public Health and the Illinois State Board of Education joint guidance document provides a transition guide for returning to learn. This is the guidance that we will follow as we make student-centric decisions. The document is specific to Illinois and is meant for Pre-K through 12th grade,” the email from Gill reads.

This document from IDPH and ISBE changed the recommendation for social distancing for in-person learning from six feet to three feet, which follows new guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The recommendations also state that teachers who are unvaccinated should still maintain a six-feet distance when possible. Masks remain mandatory.

Remote learning schedules will remain the same, and a student’s model of learning will also remain the same. “Exceptions will be considered based on individual and school circumstances. Any requests to change the learning mode for the remainder of this school year will be considered on a case-by-case basis in collaboration with teachers and school administration,” Gill wrote. 

Angie Meneghetti said the announcement about the increased in-person school days came hours before a bargaining session between the district and the Springfield Education Association – the teacher's union Meneghetti is acting president of.

Meneghetti said teachers with SEA would have preferred to have planning efforts be focused on summer learning programs and the return of students in the fall for the 2021-'22 school year. “Now we feel like we're going to be focusing just on surviving the last six weeks, and the other two objectives will be put on the side,” Meneghetti told Illinois Times.

Gill said during a March 15 school board meeting that she had heard from several teachers who said they want students to return to in-person learning four days per week. “I'm trying to think of what we can do the last six weeks to get us on the road to hopefully recovering some of this learning loss,” Gill told the board.

According to the latest data published by District 186, of nearly 13,000 students in the district, 45% are enrolled in hybrid classes. There have been 103 students with confirmed positive cases of COVID since August of last year. There have been 122 confirmed positive cases among staff.

Contact Rachel Otwell at rotwell@illinoistimes.com.

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