Riverside Elementary School District 96 students will not attend school in person for the entire month of December after Superintendent Martha Ryan-Toye announced an “adaptive pause” of in-person instruction in an email to parents sent late Friday morning.

The hybrid model will remain in effect during the week of Nov. 16, but when kids leave school on Nov. 20 for their Thanksgiving break, they won’t return to their classrooms until Jan. 4 at the earliest.

From the day students return from Thanksgiving break on Nov. 30 until school begins again after winter break on Jan. 4 all instruction will be delivered remotely.

Ryan-Toye said the decision to suspend in-person attendance was not linked to specific COVID-19 cases or metrics. Since the school year began, 18 students and three District 96 staff members have tested positive for COVID-19. Cases have increased rapidly in suburban Cook County during November.

“Our Return to Learn plan was not linked to a specific virus metric, but we do feel that this is a preventative and proactive approach, particularly post-Thanksgiving and certainly understanding that the virus is surging right now,” Ryan-Toye told the Landmark.

Students will attend school remotely during December until winter break. Since the school year started, District 96 students have had the opportunity to attend school in person part-time or remotely from home. Seventy percent of District 96 students have attended in-person classes.

Ryan-Toye informed teachers of the decision to switch to remote learning for December in a webinar Friday morning. Ryan-Toye said the reaction from the staff to the decision was positive.

“I know the staff has been feeling increasingly anxious,” Ryan-Toye said. “I know our teachers prefer in-person learning and remote learning is a challenge for our staff. There’s a lot more preparation to it, in a lot of ways.”

Ryan-Toye said teachers will have the option of teaching remotely from their homes or from their classrooms during December.

Remote instruction is now better than it was earlier in 2020, Ryan-Toye said in her email to parents.

“While we have prioritized in-person learning, we are proud of our remote learning, and we know that it is much better than last spring,” Ryan-Toye wrote. “With this adaptive pause, we are our confident that we will continue to provide high-quality instruction for all of our students in the weeks ahead and always.”


D95 announces 1-week hybrid pause after Thanksgiving

The leadership of Brookfield-LaGrange Park School District 95 after indicating earlier on Friday that they did not intend to pause their hybrid model anytime soon changed course Friday evening.

Superintendent Mark Kuzniewski sent a letter to parents on the evening of Nov. 13 announcing an “adaptive pause” in the hybrid program for one week following the Thanksgiving break.

“In order to be the most prepared for any changes beyond our control, I believe it makes sense to use an adaptive pause for the five days of school immediately following our normally scheduled Thanksgiving break'” Kuzniewski wrote. “This means ALL students will be working in a remote setting during the adaptive pause.”

Kuzniewski said he fully intends to allow students back into classrooms to restart the district’s hybrid learning model after the one-week of remote learning, but he said that could change if the data and guidance from the state recommended a different path.

“I will certainly review our current realities and make adjustments as necessary,” Kuzniewski wrote..

The Brook Park students who tested positive this week reportedly all had participated in a program run by the Brookfield Recreation Department.

“All six of them are related to the same incident and kids at the Brookfield Rec. program,” said District 95 Superintendent Mark Kuzniewski said. “It appears like it’s a lot there, not six isolated incidents. We know where that one transmission occurred.”

Kuzniewski said he remains confident that there has been no in-school transmission of the virus in District 95.

“That is the first time that we’ve seen a major spread. Although it wasn’t in our school, it’s still a spread among kids,” Kuzniewski said.

So far this year, 22 students in District 95 — 11 each at Brook Park Elementary School, and S.E. Gross Middle School — have tested positive for COVID-19 with most of those cases coming in recent weeks. Two Brook Park staff members have also tested positive.

“We’ve seen, obviously, an uptick in cases which is a concern,” Kuzniewski said. “We certainly saw an uptick in our numbers after Halloween. That’s on my mind as we’re approaching Thanksgiving.”


Komarek, D102 schools to stick with hybrid models

Komarek School in North Riverside also does not currently plan to suspend its in-person school attendance, which began last month.

“It does not appear that any type of mandatory closure is coming from the state,” Komarek Superintendent Todd Fitzgerald said in a letter sent to parents on Nov. 12. “Until such time the state mandates D94 to close, we will continue to evaluate our ability to effectively operate with the goal to remain in the hybrid model, allowing continued choice for parents/students to participate in a full-remote setting or in-person learning.”

Fitzgerald said in the letter that no Komarek students who have attended school in person have tested positive for COVID-19 although one staff member has.

This week both District 96 and District 95 have added COVID-19 case dashboards showing the number of cases in the district to their websites. The District 95 dashboard will be updated every Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoon.

LaGrange-Brookfield District 102 schools, including Congress Park School in Brookfield, are also sticking with hybrid learning, for now.

“We are staying open,” Superintendent Kyle Schumacher in a text message. “We are not looking at an adaptive pause at this time.”

Lyons-Brookfield School District 103, which includes Lincoln School in Brookfield, has since the beginning of the school year delivered instruction remotely and will continue to hold off on switching to any sort of in-person instruction.