Skip Navigation LinksRPS 205 Home > Back to School > FAQs: In-Person Instruction

 FAQs: In-Person Instruction

​new!  Why is there no hybrid model for elementary school?
Research shows that children -- especially young learners -- benefit from a face-to-face learning environment with consistency and repetition. District leaders wanted to give families two choices as we return to school. We also recognize that a full-time in-person option works best for most working families with young children. 

new!  What if my student is unable to wear a mask? 
Students who are unable to wear a face mask for medical reasons should sign up for full-time remote learning. If there is a medical reason why a student cannot wear a mask, that student should not be in school, according to guidance from the Winnebago County Health Department.

Students in special education programs can wear a face shield only if they are unable to physically remove their mask themselves.

new!  What kind of face coverings or masks are acceptable for students and staff to wear? 
Cloth face coverings must completely cover the nose and the mouth. The mask must follow the district’s dress code policy. These can include disposable masks, bandanas, neck gaiters, sleeves etc.

Because face coverings or masks are required, the district will provide reusable, cloth masks for both staff and students. Inventory of both adult and pediatric size masks will be maintained centrally, and schools will order from our central inventory for their needs. 

Students who are unable to wear a face mask for medical reasons should sign up for full-time remote learning. If there is a medical reason why a student cannot wear a mask, that student should not be in school, according to guidance from the Winnebago County Health Department. 

Students in special education programs can wear a face shield only if they are unable to physically remove their mask themselves. 

Face shields: In some cases, face shields can provide a secondary and additional layer of protection. Some teachers who work closely with small groups of students may feel most comfortable with both a face shield and a face mask. When social distancing is not feasible, a face shield may be used in addition to a mask.

Some teachers -- such as those who are teaching deaf or hearing impaired students -- may elect to use a face shield alone when social distance of more than six feet is maintained. In this case, a face shield may be used for the instructional purpose.  When the teacher moves closer to students and is within six feet, a mask must be worn.

new!  Will school start times/dismissal times change from last year for the upcoming school year?
Start and dismissal times at most elementary schools will remain the same. Some shift by 10 minutes, and middle and high schools start times have moved back by 15 minutes. Follow this link for a complete schedule.

new!  Do parents have to verbally state that their student is free of COVID-19 or symptoms each morning? Is there a waiver to sign?
No. By sending a student to school -- whether on the school bus, being dropped off or walking to school/entering the building -- the parent/guardian is confirming that their student is free of any COVID-19 symptoms, has not been in contact with anyone with COVID-19 symptoms, and is not a public health risk. 

new!  Do I still have to buy uniforms if my student is attending school this fall only two days each week? If we return to full-time in-person, will uniforms be required? Uniforms are available now, but they’re difficult to find later on in the school year. 
Families should follow the dress code policy set for their school. If your student’s school requires uniforms, they should expect to wear uniforms if choosing in-person instruction. 

new!  I have a blended family. How can we ensure our students with different last names -- at different schools -- in the same household can be on the same schedule? Who should parents contact?
The district is identifying siblings given the information provided in the back-to-school survey. All siblings, regardless of last name, will be placed on the schedule of the oldest sibling within the family. That way, all family members will be on the same schedule.

new!  Does the district have enough personal protective equipment (PPE) for all students and staff?
Yes, the district will provide masks to staff, and we have enough face shields available for staff to wear in addition to their masks as a second layer of protection. The district will also provide face coverings or masks to students who need them. 

new!  Will music, band and choir classes still be available this school year?
Yes. Fine arts are essential for students in terms of academic and social/emotional health. RPS 205 teachers are prepared to manage this instructional shift and have worked over the summer to develop multiple ways to deliver instruction. 

In accordance with the Winnebago County Health Department, the CDC and our district health professionals, instruments that have a mouthpiece are not to be played indoors.  Music classes will be held outside when possible. All students must continue to wear face masks indoors, but may remove them when playing instruments outdoors and while keeping appropriate distancing. 

Indoor classroom learning will be a mixture of learning platforms focusing on the many fundamental aspects of music. Keyboards, percussion, and other non-aerosol emitting instruments will be utilized in the classroom setting. Performance lessons will be taught remotely, and students are always encouraged to practice at home. 

Visual Arts classes will look very similar to what students are used to, only with smaller class sizes and distance between students. Students should not share supplies when possible.

We’ve shared other general fine arts guidelines, beyond traditional classroom guidelines in our updated Family Handbook and Staff Handbook. 

new!  How will middle and high school students eat lunch at school? Will they be divided into small groups? And where will they eat?
Lunch will follow CDC guidelines with no more than 50 students in one area. Each building will determine how and where to divide students up to ensure student safety comes first. 

new!  Can students bring lunch from home?
Yes, students can still bring lunch from home.

new!  Are lockers banned at all levels? What happens when the weather changes and students have coats?
Elementary schools will be using lockers. Staff will ensure that students are using social distancing when getting their coats and backpacks in the lockers in the morning and at the end of the day. Students in middle and high school will carry their belongings with them throughout the school day. That includes coats that they bring to school as the weather changes.

new!  Will students also have to wear masks during physical education? Can I choose for my student to opt out of physical education if they have to wear a mask?
Physical education classes will be held outside as often as possible to provide students with an opportunity to remove their masks.

new!  Will before-care and after-care be available?
We’re working with our community partners to ensure families have options. We’ll share more information as soon as we have it. 

new!  Part of the reason to offer in-person instruction is to support students’ social-emotional needs. Some of our young students are especially sensitive and need consoling with a hug. Are teachers and staff allowed to provide that type of emotional support?
Of course. We are encouraging air hugs, air high fives and elbow bumps, but know hugs will occasionally be necessary, too. Continue to keep washing hands and use hand sanitizer when soap and water aren’t available -- and encourage your students to do the same. We’re also providing face shields to all staff who would like to wear them in addition to their masks/face covering.

new!  Are district leaders considering how hot some schools get? Many schools don’t have air conditioning and are on multiple levels. Students and staff will be extra warm wearing masks, and they won’t be able to remove masks for extra water breaks.
Yes. Administrators are considering using remote learning days for students who choose in-person instruction when temperatures and the heat index are particularly high. Administrators are aware of the additional PPE that students and staff will wear, which could add to discomfort in some of our schools without air conditioning. 

new!  Will elementary music and art staff still have students in their classroom, or will they visit each general education classroom? Does that put specials staff at risk, seeing so many students in one day or week?
Building principals are developing plans that will work for their students and staff. The administration is encouraging a push-in model, where a teacher visits a general education classroom, instead of a pull-out model, where an entire class moves to an art room or music room. This isn’t possible at all schools, depending on the school layout and available space. Principals will share more information in the coming weeks. 

new!  For middle and high school students participating in the hybrid model, will they follow the same curriculum online as they do when they’re at school? Will students be working on online classes in school?
Yes, remote learning will follow the same curriculum scope and order as in-person instruction. Those two student groups may engage in the content in different ways, but what they are learning will be the same. Additionally, content that may not have been captured last spring due to emergency school closure has been identified and will be embedded into this upcoming school year’s curriculum in order to address any learning loss. That will be a shared benefit for both remote and in-person settings.

In-person instruction may look a little different due to physical distancing and other health guidelines, but the content of that instruction has not changed.

new!  Will students -- especially elementary students -- be monitored in the bathroom to ensure they’re washing their hands?
Yes, staff will monitor students during bathroom breaks.

new!  If bathrooms are closed during passing periods, when will staff/teachers use the bathrooms?

Staff should use the staff bathrooms. Only student bathrooms will be closed during passing periods. 

new!  How will the district address required safety drills, such as tornado, fire, active shooter and shelter-in-place?
We are waiting for guidance from the Boone-Winnebago Regional Office of Education about required safety drills. We’ll share more information as soon as it’s available. 

new!  Will window air conditioning units and fans be allowed in classrooms?
We’re following guidance from the CDC and are working closely with the Winnebago County Health Department to ensure our heating, ventilation and air conditioning resources are appropriate during this time. 

The district’s COVID response plan includes running HVAC units two hours before and two hours after students occupy each building to flush building HVAC systems, classrooms, hallways and common areas. This plan will help introduce additional outdoor/fresh air into our buildings, in conjunction with the required ventilation that happens over the course of the day.

The Winnebago County Health Department has advised us to run ceiling fans in reverse to pull air toward the ceiling and prevent air from being pushed directly onto a group of people. This will also help increase circulation in our schools. Our facilities team is currently reviewing which fans are able to run in reverse. Stand-alone fans – such as box fans, floor fans or desk fans – are permitted as long as they are not blowing air directly on students or staff.

Window air conditioning units can run as long as the diffuser is directed toward the ceiling. The district’s window A/C approval process will be unchanged this school year; it requires a medical professional’s recommendation, plus approval from the district’s human resources and health services staff.

new!  How will student drop-off and dismissal -- daily events that are always crowded -- take place?
Each school will develop a plan specific to their school’s layout that follows CDC guidelines and provides for as much social distancing as possible. Administrators are planning for additional staff to help minimize crowding. Each school’s leadership team will assign various entry and exit points, based on student cohorts, instead of one main entrance and exit, plus visual cues, signage and barriers.

Why isn’t there a hybrid option for elementary families with a combination of in-person and remote learning?
Teams of administrators and teachers determined that the social emotional impact for elementary students should be top of mind when considering in-person instruction. We weighed the needs of students and families in the district and determined five days of instruction meet the needs of most working families and families whose students need in-person connection to best learn. Remote learning is an option for families that desire an alternative. 

Will students who attend school this fall go a half day or full day?
Students who choose in-person instruction will attend for the regularly scheduled school day. The Illinois State Board of Education requires five hours of remote instruction daily for those students that choose remote learning. 

Are charter schools offering the same plans?
Charter school staff are working with their leadership teams to develop plans unique to their schools. Please reach out to your charter school’s administration for more information.

For secondary schools, how do I choose A or B days? Can my children be on the same day?
Students will be assigned based on their last name. Students with last names A-K will be assigned to Group A (Mondays and Thursday). Students with last names L-Z will be assigned to Group B (Tuesdays and Fridays). All students will be assigned remote learning on Wednesdays. If your household includes siblings or other family members who have different last names, the school will accommodate your needs to schedule your students on the same days. 

How will passing periods work at middle and high schools?
Building administrators are working on plans for student traffic flow. 

How many students will be in a class?
The class size depends on the families who choose full-time remote learning or in-person learning. The results of the survey will determine class sizes. 

Would it be an option for the high school teachers to move from room to room instead of the students?
With the complexity of master scheduling and students creating academic schedules unique to their interests and academic needs, it is not possible to have staff float and students remain in one cohort. To mitigate risk, we’ve divided students into smaller groups so that social distancing is more feasible in each classroom.

Since the majority of school holidays fall on Mondays, how will that time be made up for that cohort?
We are examining the academic calendar now to ensure one student group is not more deeply impacted than the other.

Will before- and after-care be available?
District leaders are working with our community partners to provide before- and after-school care at some of our locations. We’ll share more information when it’s available.

Will we be able to do any group work/peer interaction in the classroom, or will it be strictly teacher-led instruction with no grouping or pairs?
Group work and/or pairs will be able to occur if proper distancing is implemented.

Guided reading groups are composed of small groups in the early grades. Will staff still be expected to form guided reading groups if small group instruction is discouraged/not permitted?
Guided reading, one of the core components of our balanced literacy model, is important for young learners. There may be some adaptations to the use of the guided reading table, but the components will still be part of the literacy block. We’ll share more information when it’s available. 

Will bathrooms have monitors to ensure a limited number of students enter at a time?
Staff will work collaboratively to monitor the number of students using restrooms at any given time.

How will staff working with younger elementary/special education classes teach reading/sounds when students cannot see the teacher’s mouth or hear correctly with a mask on?
The district will provide face shields to teachers and staff, and they can be used especially in these situations. If a face shield cannot be worn with a face covering or mask, the teacher or staff member must stay at least 6 feet away from others. 

How do teachers keep a physical distance from students who need help throughout the class period? 
Teachers and staff should support students throughout the class period and circulate around the classroom supporting students. Staff should be aware to spend less than 15 minutes at one time with one student.

What will the protocol be for students who soil their mask (allergy sneezes, for example). Are they required to bring a backup or will the school provide it?
Students will be encouraged to have an extra mask on hand. The district will also provide additional masks for students.

With middle school students only attending school in-person for two days, will there be any changes to the middle school uniform policy?
Currently there are no recommendations to change or update the school uniform policies. 

What will school libraries look like?
We have specific plans for libraries -- developed with input from RPS 205 librarians -- to ensure students and staff are safe. Plans include small group visits to the library, visitor limits, updated seating arrangements, regular disinfection between classes, and quarantining books after they’re returned.

Back to FAQs

To Top