Reimagine Education OPRF FAQs

This is an evolving list of frequently asked questions about our semester 1 remote learning plan for the 2020-2021 school year. Please check back for updates.

Why go remote?

Why is in-person learning not feasible in any form for every student? Isn’t there some form of hybrid model that can safely make this happen?
We all want to be back in the school with our students as quickly as possible, and we examined a wide variety of schedules developed by districts throughout the state to see if that’s possible. In all scenarios, the challenge of instituting a hybrid model was limited by four  factors: 

  1. In order to institute physical distancing guidelines, the vast majority of our classrooms could hold only 7-8 students. That means we could accommodate approximately 25%-30% of our student population--about 850 students--at one time.  
  2. With the need to prioritize in-person services for the students who have Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) or 504 accommodations,the number of other students who could be brought in on a rotating basis was further limited. 
  3. Even if we were able to bring in 25% of our overall student population each day, transitioning classes from period to period would make it extraordinarily difficult, if not impossible, to maintain social distancing and sanitize classrooms between periods.
  4. Finally, as predicted earlier this summer, the number of COVID-19 cases is on the rise in our area. Limiting the risk to our students and our community, while focusing on a quality remote-learning approach for the fall semester, is simply the most prudent path to take.   

Why not livestream classes?
Two streaming platforms are being made available to faculty - Zoom and Google Meet.  Each allows for a safe and secure streaming environment to students during synchronous instruction.

The embedded microphone, camera, and display in teacher laptops work well when the teacher is in close proximity to the device. Including a wider scope and replicating what is happening in a classroom on a remote/digital platform requires outfitting each classroom with appropriate cameras, monitors, speakers, and microphones. Vendors have confirmed that they are out of stock and likely won’t have any availability until well into the first semester if not later. Implementation costs are significant. 

Should we focus only on core classes, eliminating electives that seem to require in-person classes?
We are committed to preserving the breadth of our current curricular offerings, even in a remote environment. Additionally, graduation requirements have not been waived by the Illinois State Board of Education; eliminating electives, which help fulfill those requirements, isn’t a path we are able to take. 

Why can’t you use mobile classrooms or put tents around the school for students to use?
With social distancing requirements, mobile classrooms would not accommodate enough students to be a feasible option. Tents might be useful in good weather but would lead to last-minute cancelations in inclement conditions and would not be at all suitable in cold weather. They also would present challenges for cleaning and sanitation, as would providing adequate bathroom facilities that could be thoroughly and frequently sanitized.

Quality of Instruction

Is the instructional time you’ve identified here sufficient? Are minimum and required synchronous minutes enough?
We have revamped the instructional schedule we proposed on July 9. Specifics will be shared publicly at the Board meeting on Aug. 5, but they will include classes five days a week and a significant increase in the time requirements for synchronous instruction. We have asked for feedback on this from members of the state’s guidance committee, as well as directly from our state superintendent, and we have been assured that our plan contains sufficient instructional time, both overall and synchronously. 

Does your proposal satisfy guidelines for instructional minutes set by the state?
Yes. While the state has not waived the requirement of five hours per day, they allow any activity related to instruction to satisfy these requirements. This includes independent student work, small-group work, asynchronous learning activities, and so forth. 

How can we ensure that we are covering the breadth and depth of the curriculum, particularly for advanced classes? 
We are committed to engaging students in the essential content in each of our classes to help ensure their readiness for future coursework and experiences after high school. Our teachers will be taking a variety of approaches to do so, including:

  • Using common preassessments to ensure we are meeting students where their needs are. 
  • Establishing benchmarks and essential learning targets for all classes. 
  • Adhering to the Advanced Placement syllabi that are submitted to and approved by the College Board each school year.
  • Using weekly collaboration meetings with their peers to ensure that we are covering all required content.

How will we handle the unique challenges of co-curricular classes, or classes that require group or hands-on experiences for the curriculum (band, choir, woodworking, IRDI, etc.)? 
We are in the final stages of developing our plans for classes that require hands on learning experiences more than others. We are examining ways for some of these classes to meet in the school periodically throughout the semester, as well as establishing ways to enhance individualized practice and performances using a variety of technological platforms. We will be announcing these plans as soon as we can. 

Why are we doing letter grades?
To help ensure that the rigor of our curriculum is fully intact this coming fall, and to ensure that we are consistent with state guidelines and other high schools across the state, we are holding to our traditional grading system.  

Equity and Student Supports

How will students with IEPs and 504 accommodations, those who just need support with remote learning, and/or those who truly need in-person instruction be identified for in-person support? 
The Special Education Division recently sent a survey to parents and caregivers of diverse learners in an effort to gain clear insight into what they view as primary needs for their student(s) to be successful as we transition into the fall. Additionally, the executive director of special education is facilitating listening sessions with special education division staff, who will be invited to attend on a voluntary basis. 

Teacher Preparedness

What kind of training in remote instruction are teachers receiving, and what will that look like for our students?
We have used a variety of trainings, including self-paced training for our entire staff in April, and several Google classroom, digital citizenship, and curriculum specific webinars over the summer. We will also be providing professional development throughout the coming school year. As a result, our students can expect consistent synchronous learning experiences for all classes in the fall. Students should expect to be in learning experiences that maximize synchronous time, while still providing time for independent learning and access to support on a daily basis.

Decision-Making

Did the Imagine project construction work play any part in the recommendation for the e-learning only plan in the fall?
No. Student learning is our core purpose and our first priority. We would never allow a construction process to drive our instructional decision making. Additionally, whether or not students and staff are in the building does not affect the construction schedule for the current project. The South Cafeteria and Student Resource Center are still expected to be completed sometime in winter 2022.

I’m a health-care professional who has been working throughout the pandemic. People at my workplace are not getting sick, and we have daily exposure to the virus. If we can make our high-risk environment safe, why can’t you do the same for school?
Ensuring safety in a health-care setting staffed by adults with medical training and full-body PPE is not the same as trying to ensure the safety of hundreds of teenagers who are unlikely to exhibit 100% compliance with risk-reduction protocols such as mask-wearing and hand-washing. The two environments are not comparable.