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     July 29, 2020      #21-211 a2z

Bradley elementary schools plan to bring kids back

By Stephanie Markham

BRADLEY — Bradley Elementary School District 61 is bringing students back for in-person learning five days per week, but school hours will be shortened and families will have the option of completely remote learning.

The Bradley Elementary School Board reviewed a handful of back-to-school options and indicated preference toward the five-day-per-week model during a meeting Thursday.

Under this model, students will physically attend school for four hours each day and complete about an hour of classwork after school with teachers on call.

Teachers will resume a traditional grading system.

School hours will be 7:30 to 11:30 a.m. for Bradley Central, 8 a.m. to noon for Bradley East and 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. for Bradley West.

Students will get grab-and-go breakfasts they can take back to their classrooms to eat and grab-and-go lunches to take home after school.

Superintendent Scott Goselin said the shortened school days are being implemented in part because some classrooms do not have air conditioning, making wearing masks for long hours difficult.

“We’re going to try to shorten the day as much as we can to get the kids some air time to get those masks off,” he said.

He also said that since the state is recommending a return to in-person instruction, a five-day-per-week schedule seemed like the best option.

“We miss the kids in the classrooms. They miss us,” Goselin said. “The more that we get them in the classrooms, to get back as normal as possible, that’s what we’re shooting for.”

Families that do not feel comfortable sending their children back to school yet can opt for completely remote learning. After making this choice, the students would be committed to remote learning for at least one trimester.

“We’ve been listening. We understand that families are just having a tough time doing masks … and that’s OK,” Goselin said.

The board did not vote on the plan Thursday, but Goselin said the district will go in this direction. He said he would be communicating details with families in the coming days, and the board will vote on a finalized plan in August.

Also on Thursday, the board approved a 2020-21 school year calendar that brings students back to school Aug. 24 and dismisses them for summer May 26.

Board President Terrie Golwitzer said the district will follow Illinois Department of Public Health guidelines, including the requirement of face masks for staff and students.

“When we take this position as a board member, we take an oath that we will follow both federal and Illinois laws, and that is an Illinois mandate,” she said. “We have no options.”

Goselin said the district will also be enforcing social distancing as much as possible, enhancing cleaning and sanitation efforts throughout the schools and prohibiting gatherings over 50, per Illinois Department of Public Health guidelines.

The district will also require students and staff to self-certify they are symptom free before entering the buildings. The district is still figuring out exactly how self-certification would work, Goselin said.

Multiple options for a blended learning model in which students would alternate remote and in-person learning days were also presented Thursday, but most board members said they preferred the first option.

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