Education during a Pandemic: A Hybrid Classroom

On March 13, District 87 announced students and faculty would no longer be attending school physically due to the rapidly increasing cases of COVID-19. We would instead transition in a matter of days to the barely tested system of e-learning.

The administration quickly improved on the very basic system which was initially deployed. As the virus grew ever more prevalent, the date for a return to in-person learning was repeatedly pushed back.

Flash forward to now. School is still completely remote, but with a far different system. We now have four longer periods each day except Wednesday, when we have eight short periods.

Virtual classes are organized and regularly scheduled. Our education has improved since the beginning.

According to Ms. Scumaci, Assistant Principal of Operations at Glenbard West, “[they] are constantly offering professional development for our staff to help provide a positive remote experience for all students.”

Although remote learning has improved and is a safe option, it is still not as effective as in-person learning. Virtual schooling almost always underperformed in-person schooling in studies taken before the pandemic, using dedicated virtual and in-person schools for the comparison.

Glenbard West is not a dedicated virtual school, but rather a more or less impromptu virtual school by circumstance, so the existing system is likely less effective than the ones in the studies. The difference between the two methods could set back an entire generation educationally.

For this reason, shortly before the 2020-2021 school year began, students could opt into a hybrid learning option in which two days of the week are spent at school while the other three are completed remotely. This minimized health risks while resolving the issues associated with not being able to interact and be present in school. The implementation of this was postponed due to safety concerns.

The next tentative date when hybrid learning will begin is the nineteenth of October. According to District 87, there were four main considerations for when school will reopen:

  • Health data
  • Staffing
  • Quarantine restrictions
  • Safety protocols and equipment

“We will be using the same criteria listed […] to decide our return date, this will be assessed next on 10/13,” says Ms. Scumaci.

Although health data and quarantine restrictions are outside of the control of the schools, staffing, safety protocols, and equipment are components within the reach of District 87.

When asked about the plan for hybrid learning, Ms. Scumaci responded, “We have created health screeners that anyone entering the building will need to complete, this information is sent directly to the assistant principals of the building. Everyone entering will also need to walk through our thermal screeners and ensure their temperature is under 100.4. There is signage placed throughout the building as a reminder to social distance and all classrooms have been set up to have students 6 ft apart. We have increased staffing in both supervision and sanitation specialists.”

While the date we begin in-person learning may be postponed again, we will eventually be able to return to normal life without fear of a deadly virus.
“As an administrative team we are looking forward to and can’t wait to have our students back in the building in the safest possible way!” says Ms. Scumaci.

For the latest information regarding our school during the pandemic, take a look at the official District 87 webpage. For more on the virus in general, check the official CDC webpage.