LT to begin hybrid model

LT hybrid weekly schedule

Abe Morales, Reporter

After many weeks of remote learning, LT has finalized its hybrid learning model and welcomed students and faculty members back to school on Oct. 19. The hybrid learning model provides students with the opportunity to choose whether they want to go back to in-person or stay fully remote. 

LT is offering students the option to opt in or out of in-person learning at any time, principal Brian Waterman said. For some students, remote learning has not been the most optimal experience and going back provides those students with a more personalized learning. 

“Online learning has reached the point where I’m worried that my grades are going to suffer if I don’t have some type of in-person instruction,” Loretta Walker ‘22 said. “I don’t really want to go back, [but] I feel like I will have a better chance of maintaining my grades in-person than over online, [and] it kind of sucks that [students] are being forced into the position of health versus education.” 

Under this hybrid plan, roughly 50% of students that agreed to attend will do in-person learning for two days per week based on their last name, superintendent Timothy Kilrea said. Students will attend remotely on days they are not scheduled to be on campus, logging in via Zoom. Students returning to campus should expect to bring their mask, fully-charged laptop and any other materials they will need for the day. LT administrators are hoping to reunite the LT community and reignite a sense of normalcy.

“[Our] rationale was really prioritizing in-person connections and the in-person learning piece that we’ve been missing for the first six to eight weeks of the school year,” Waterman said. “There’s [still] a lot of work that is happening before the 19th to make sure that we have good protocols in place and are keeping [students] safe.”

Parents or guardians of students who are going back for in-person learning will receive an email with the symptom screener attached every morning at 5 a.m. and are responsible for completing it before 8:45 a.m., Waterman said. The screener includes a variety of questions that assess for symptoms and exposure to COVID-19. The questionnaire must be completed daily even if the student does not have in-person learning that day. 

Once the screener is completed, both the parent and the student will receive their confirmation or denial email. Students must present their verification email via screenshot, print, or on their phones to staff every morning before entering the building. Failure to complete the symptom screener will result in students being denied or delayed access to the building, and parents will be contacted. 

 “If people pay attention to what LT is saying and follow the rules that they’re laying out, this can work,” Walker said. 

If LT has a positive COVID-19 case, a “close contact” report will be filed and thoroughly evaluated, Waterman said. The health office staff will contact the parents of the student who tested positive and discuss the details of the case to gather information. They will then discuss and analyze any close contact that can be traced; this report would not include any outside contact that may have occurred. Health office staff will proceed to talk to the student, parents and teachers to discuss the appropriate action plan. The student who tested positive will need to quarantine for 14 days at home and any close contacts traced will also be asked to quarantine even if they test negative for COVID-19. 

Every positive case is reported to the Cook County Department of Public Health. If there are two confirmed cases within 14 calendar days, the Cook County Department of Public Health will get involved and will decide if the school can remain open or if it must close.

The hybrid learning model does not guarantee a perfect 50-50 split of students learning in-person versus online, Waterman said. There will be some classes that face an imbalance of students and LT is well aware of that.

“We’re looking [at the classes] that might have a bigger representation, and we’re going to try to switch some classrooms to get them to a bigger classroom space, where they can actually social distance,” Kilrea said. 

Students are asked to arrive no earlier than 8:45 a.m., unless they have scheduled to meet with a teacher during Vita Plena time, and are to report immediately to their classrooms upon arrival, Waterman said. Hallways and stairwells have been marked with directional signage to assist with social distancing and guidance. Seating charts will also be implemented within each class to ensure a minimum of six feet between each desk.

Once class starts, teachers will begin to lecture students over Zoom and in-person simultaneously. However, some students have chosen to stay fully remote because of some concerns they have with the hybrid model, which is creating uneasiness within the student body.

“I want to stay remote because I don’t trust that LT is really fully prepared,” Jiselle Plata ‘22 said. “I feel like they rushed into a lot of stuff. I know that not all my teachers are comfortable with going back; if the teachers aren’t comfortable, why would I be fully comfortable?”

As of Oct. 18, 17% of the student body has chosen to stay remote while roughly 83% of students are expected to attend in-person learning, Waterman said. Most of the LT teachers have also chosen to come back for in-person learning; however, a select few have decided to stay remote for personal or medical reasons.

Students who will be attending school in person are expected to carry all of their materials for the day with them; lockers will not be made available to them for safety concerns, Waterman said. If a student does not have their own personal laptop to bring to school, they can go to the library and borrow one for the day. Students are expected to return the laptop by the end of the day, so they can be sanitized and charged. 

In the hybrid learning model, lunch will not be served, and as a result, LT is offering students the opportunity to fill out an opt-out form, so they can leave during their lunch/study hall period. There will be no school transportation available to students who decide to leave early, Waterman said. Students who have not opted out of lunch/study hall are expected to report to a designated classroom where they can work on homework and must remain there until the end of the last period of the day. Students can find their assigned classroom number under Infinite Campus in their schedule.

A traditional bus route will run each afternoon to get students home following the end of the last class at 1:50 p.m., Waterman said. LT will still be offering a late bus to take students home after the Vita Plena time at 3:05 p.m. On Wednesdays, Lion days, there will be no transportation available to students since all students will be remote. Students will be required to wear a facemask prior to boarding the bus and must keep their mask on throughout the ride.

“It’s not a question of [is] LT trying; it’s a question of is the community going to try with them,” Walker said. “It’s up to the students, parents and teachers to all try. It’s risk and reward; this is a very [big] risk for me, but the reward of maintaining my grades and getting a quality education is worth it, in my opinion.”