Jones admin plans Apr. 19 reopening

Admin presents Jones Hybrid model in Information Session


Jones Administration presents the current plans for the hybrid model.

Following the release of the Jones opt-in survey, Jones administration is continuing to plan for the proposed goal to begin hybrid learning. They anticipate to hold a town hall with a live Q and A soon.

60 percent of Jones students opted in for in-person learning, Principal Joseph Paul Powers said, and Freshmen and Seniors are most likely to return. 

Conveyed through an informational session on March 24, administrators expressed goals for hybrid learning to include keeping students in the same schedules, ensuring access to Chromebooks for all students opting in-person, and complying with Chicago Public Schools (CPS) safety requirements. 

“We do not know the answers to all the questions you might have,” said Powers during the information session. “Some decisions have not been made yet. A lot of the things that are going wrong with the reopening are subject to the negotiation between CPS and the Chicago Teachers’ Union. Until we know the final outcome of those negotiations and the decisions that are made, we have to go off of what information we do have.”

The information that the administration is conveying as of now to students and families comes from two task forces: one in CPS, and one in Jones. As of now, administration feels confident that all students will maintain their schedules after school reopens.

“We’re going to follow what’s sometimes called a ‘two, one, and two’ schedule, which basically is very similar to what we’re doing,” said Powers. “Monday and Tuesday will be A/B Days, Wednesday will be an Eagle Day—the exact design and configuration of that remains to be unseen, based on feedback we’ll be getting and suggestions and recommendations from CPS—and then we’ll have another A and B day.”

Using this model, opted-in students will be divided into “flights.” One flight will attend school in-person for Monday and Tuesday, and the other will attend on Thursday and Friday. Wednesday would continue to be remote for all students. In addition to the flight system, capacity will be further limited in the building through new guidelines.

“We’re going to have staggered arrival times, not tremendously early or anything like that, but staggered over a period of perhaps 25 to 30 minutes,” Powers said. “We will be having security checks and temperature checks upon entry. Security checks are going to be modified from what we’ve often done, but temperature checks are for everyone.”

Other relevant areas of interest and concern were identified by Assistant Principal Eric Mitchell as wide-spanning.

“We framed the [frequently asked] questions around three areas that seemed to be the biggest concern,” said Mitchell. “So, questions around technology, questions around instruction, and questions around health and safety. I won’t say any one more than the other [is a source of concern]; I think they’re fairly equal.”

The exact date of when CPS will provide updated information and guidelines to Jones administration is unclear, as is the plan for if the Apr. 19 reopening date needs to be pushed back because of negotiations.

“We do have to wait for guidance from CPS,” said Mitchell. “We are creating plans, but a lot of them depend on what supports we’re going to get from CPS. For example, with technology needs, if the district is saying that they will provide or help support schools with various technology, what is that going to look like? How much of it are we going to get from the district?”

Despite emphasizing compliance with CPS health and safety guidelines, Powers expressed hope for more opportunities for students to socialize and engage in extracurricular activities. AcLab is also in development as the administration reviews safety concerns.

“Procedures for after-school activities are in process right now, as we’ve had successful relaunching of some of our athletics, which has been very gratifying,” said Powers. “It’s great to see that going on on our campus, and we will be seeing more of that as we go along.”

Current guidelines for the Apr. 19 reopening date will continue to develop, especially after more eligible students over 16 elect to be vaccinated. President Joe Biden said people 18 and over will be eligible starting May 1 or before nationwide. Pfizer recently announced 100 percent efficacy for teens 12-15. 

“I know there will be vaccination efforts [by the CPS district], but right now as Chicago is transitioning to phase 1C of the Covid vaccine distribution, Chicagoans age 16 to 64 with underlying medical conditions are going to be eligible to receive the vaccine,” said Assistant Principal Therese Plunkett. “That is something that, if a student needs help finding a vaccination site, they can call the Illinois Department of Health Care and Family Services. Once they go to another phase, there may be some way that CPS might provide vaccination sites for students who are over 16.”

Administrators expressed excitement about students returning to school, despite the restrictions, and emphasized the fluidity of the situation.

“We miss [students] here in the building, and we’d love to try and create a space where we can get back to some sense of normalcy,” said Mitchell. “School is a place for learning but it’s also a place for those levels of socialization and connection.”