Students in Lyons-Brookfield School District 103 will return to their classrooms for the first time in more than a year in May to spend the final three weeks of the academic year in person two days a week.

Beginning May 4 students will have to option to attend classes in person two afternoons per week for two hours each until the school year ends on May 24.

“I really look forward to seeing the children back in the schools,” said District 103 Superintendent Kristopher Rivera.

Alone among area school districts, District 103 has been doing 100-percent remote learning for the entire school year. Recently, students have been coming to their schools to take federally mandated standardized tests.

Nearly 36 percent of District 103 students are expected to come to school in person for the two afternoon sessions each week in May. Half will come on Tuesdays and Thursdays and the other half will come on Wednesdays and Friday. Remote learning with teachers online will continue in the mornings five days a week. On Monday afternoons and during the afternoons when students are not at school, students will do homework assignments.

The district is calling the back-to-school plan a “reconnection” plan. The main goals are to allow students to readapt to the classroom and have the opportunity to socialize with other students. Computers will not be used in the buildings during the afternoon in-person sessions. 

“There is going to be no technology,” Rivera said. “We are going to focus on social-emotional learning and engagement activities. … There are kids out there struggling with that social-emotional aspect and we want to address that.”

Students who stay home those afternoons will participate in engagement activities remotely.

The students who do come to school for the two afternoons a week will have academic instruction during the mornings and do asynchronous academic work in the afternoons that they are not in school buildings.

Rivera said it took a lot of planning and negotiating with various unions to develop the back-to-school plan.

“We’ve been bargaining with all these groups,” Rivera said, mentioning the teachers’ union, the teacher aides’ union and the custodial union.

Rivera praised his administrative staff for working very hard to put together a plan get kids into the buildings.

“I pushed them very hard and they stepped up,” Rivera said.

While they are in the school buildings, students will have to wear face masks. They will also have to remain six feet apart and face in the same direction whenever possible.