By Bob Skolnik
Komarek School students will have the option to return to school for a portion of the school day in the coming weeks.
The pre-K through eighth-grade school in North Riverside is preparing to offer a hybrid learning plan to students as well as allowing students to continue on the 100-percent remote learning schedule that they have been following since the school year began.
As of now, slightly more than half of Komarek families -- 54 percent -- are choosing to stick with the remote learning option, Komarek Superintendent Todd Fitzgerald said.
The hybrid learning schedule will be rolled out in phases. It will start on Oct. 26 when pre-K through second graders will be able to return to school for a half-day schedule five days a week.
A week later, on Nov. 2, third through- fifth-graders whose families choose the hybrid plan, will return to school for half days. A week later, on Nov. 9, sixth- through eighth-graders will be able to return to in person learning for half days.
The students will split into two groups with one group attending school in the morning and the other group attending school in the afternoon. Pre-K through fifth-grade students will attend school in person for two hours each day while sixth- through eighth-graders will be at the school for 2.5 hours each day.
Class sizes are expected to range from seven to 14 students, and all attending in person will be required to wear face coverings and observe social distancing guidelines.
While elementary school students will focus on math and language arts, sixth through eighth grades will focus on math, language arts and social studies while in the building. Science, physical education and elective subjects will continue to be conducted remotely. Students will not eat lunch at school.
D103 chief on return: 'Not safe just yet'
With Komarek School, Riverside-Brookfield High School and Lyons Township High School all introducing some in-person schooling this month, Lyons-Brookfield Elementary School District 103 will soon be the only local school district not offering in-person instruction to its students.
In a presentation posted on the District 103 website last week, District 103 Superintendent Kristopher Rivera said the positivity rate and weekly COVID-19 case rate in the communities that comprise the district is too high to safely return to school.
"It is not safe just yet," Rivera said.
Rivera said the district is looking for case rates of 50 or fewer per 100,000 people and a positivity rate of 5 percent or lower in D103 communities before allowing students to come to school.
In Brookfield, the positivity rate is 4.05 percent and the case rate is 90.4 cases per 100,000 people. In Lyons, the positivity rate is 4.27 percent and the case rate is 66 per 100,000.
Rates are highest in the 60402 ZIP code which includes Stickney and Forest View. In 60402 the positivity rate is 7.82 with 213.3 cases per 100,000.
However, Stickney and Forest View make up just a small portion of 60402, which also includes the much larger city of Berwyn.
In the tiny town of McCook, the positivity rate is 2.68 percent, with 73.6 cases per 100,000 people.
Rivera said the district must meet its targeted rates for two consecutive weeks to return to some in-person school attendance. Once the decision is made to return to some in-person attendance, Rivera said that it would take the district three weeks to transition into that model.