JTHS still evaluating its reopening plan

Ana Reyes, staff writer

As of November 11th, of 2020, Naperville District 203’s superintendent had announced that it would continue E-learning until January 25th of 2021. This decision was made after the DuPage County Health Department posted metrics that showed a 56% increase in youth cases from the previous week and an increase in the overall positivity rate from 8.5% to 10.6%. “We will continue with Enhanced eLearning through the remainder of first semester. The earliest we will transition to a hybrid model is January 25, 2021,” stated the superintendent in his letter to families.

Since early 2020 the COVID-19 pandemic has taken over the lives of so many people, including students.  States had issued stay at home orders, countries’ borders were being closed, basic necessities were being bought off the selves in a matter of hours, schools were closing, proms were cancelled. The whole country had shut down in a matter of weeks. Because of this, many schools in the country have chosen to start the school years fully remote and online due to the COVID-19 and trying to prevent the spread.

Now that many months have passed, some school districts have chosen to announce plans to return to in-person learning. Schools throughout the country have extended the dates of in-person learning, or continued their adaptive pauses, due to their states COVID-19 cases not being able to go down.

Everyone has questions. How will we be able to stay safe if JTHS students do come back to school? Will we take the same steps as District 203?  “The only decision made to this point is that JTHS will stay remote until the end of this semester,” commented Superintendent Guseman when asked about whether JHTS would follow in District 203’s footsteps on extending the date of being fully remote. Guseman shared data and information about the metrics they use to make recommendations at the November Board Meeting. No other recommendations were made at that time. “We are going to continue to watch the COVID transmission rates within our community and make a recommendation for the start of the second semester in December,” continued Dr. Guseman.

Another question that has been floating around since the conversation of reopening schools has appeared was how were school districts going to make sure that students and staff are safe?  “If and when we are able to go back to in-person instruction, JTHS will follow all the safety requirements from the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and the CDC. We will not be able to have our entire student body in the building at this same time, but we remain hopeful the transmission rate declines and eventually is at a minimal level that would allow JTHS to safely have a percentage of students and staff in the buildings,” said Dr. Guseman.

Many people wonder about Naperville in particular on how they will contain the virus if kids’ come back or if there’s a possibility the date to return to in-person learning could potentially be extended. “In regard to our January 25 date – that is the start of our second semester which lends itself to a natural transition.  It also allows for several weeks after the holidays to allow for any new cases to develop,” said Sinikka Mondini, the executive director of communication at Naperville 203 when asked about the possibility of an extended reopening date. Naperville 203 has also provided a handbook about their reopening plan here: https://www.naperville203.org/Page/7755 .

Unlike D203, JTHS begins the new semester following the winter break. JTHS 204 has also developed a handbook of important information for families to rely on. This information has been compiled since the beginning of the school year as the district has remained transparent in their communication regarding closings, e-learning, and safety measures being put in place. The handbook can be found here: JTHS 2020-2021 Remote Learning. 

As of now, the first day of second semester for student attendance at JTHS is January 6, 2021. Follow the district website for announcements.