School is expected to return to normal next fall at the area’s two public high schools.

“Students should be preparing for a return to a traditional school year,” said Riverside Brookfield High School District 208 Superintendent Kevin Skinkis at the April 27 school board meeting. “This entails regular school day bell schedule, lunches on campus, extra-curricular activities after school.”

Lyons Township High School officials have also been planning for a return to a traditional schedule next year.

“It is our expectation that we will return to our pre-pandemic schedule,” said Lyons Township High School Community Relations Coordinator Jennifer Bialobok.

The only students who will be allowed to attend school remotely next year will be students who have serious medical conditions that don’t allow them to be vaccinated or put them at additional risk of severe complications if they come down with COVID-19. Students who desire to attend school remotely next year will have to apply for a medical waiver.

“The paperwork and the process for the remote option will be rigorous,” Skinkis said.

Both RBHS and LTHS with other near west suburban high schools are exploring through the West 40 Intermediate Service Center to create a remote academy to teach the very few students who are expected to qualify to attend school remotely next year. 

Those classes would not be taught by RBHS teachers but perhaps by teachers hired by West 40.

“I’m sure some families won’t be happy that it may not be classes with RB teachers, but at this point we’re anticipating a large majority, if not all of our students, returning,” Skinkis said.

Students will not have to be vaccinated against COVID to return to school next fall, although vaccines now are available to students 16 and older and many have already been vaccinated. 

There is hope that a vaccine will become available to kids between the ages of 12 and 16 over the summer. It is not yet certain if face coverings will be required in schools next year, but it seems likely they will still be required when school resumes in August.

“A lot will depend on when vaccinations become available for children 12 years and older,” Skinkis said in a text message.

Currently, about 450 RBHS students, about 28 percent, are attending school in person. At LTHS about 57 percent of students are now attending school in person at least two days a week. Thirty-one percent of LTHS students are coming to school in person four days a week.

Local elementary school districts are also planning for a return to full day, in-person school next year.

RBHS officials are planning to take steps to ease the transition for students, many of whom who last came to school in person in March 2020 when schools shut down in-person operations because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Skinkis said that the RBHS is considering purchasing additional psychological services through the LaGrange Area Special Education District (LADSE), which provides psychologists to the school. The school may also add some behavioral interventionists to help students who might struggle getting reacclimated.

RBHS is also taking steps to combat the expected learning loss experienced by students who have not attended school in person for more than a year. Students will be given a new assessment in reading and math when they return next year and low-performing students will be pulled out of elective or PE classes and given additional instruction.