District 203 ‘Return to Learn’ updates


Amisha Sethi

District 203’s new “Return to Learn” plan will start the school year online, then proceed to bring students back to school based on pandemic conditions.

William Tong, Online Managing Editor

8/4: The District 203 Board of Education and administration clarified details regarding the “Return to Learn 2.0” plan, released last Friday, and voted unanimously to approve of the new 20-21 calendar at yesterday’s Board meeting

The online-only start to the school year is required by Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) guidelines to engage students in five hours of learning a day. For high school students, the traditional 7:45 a.m. to 3:10 p.m. school day will be reinstated, with its previously existing  50-minute classes and six-minute passing periods in between. The district expects each period to be at least half synchronous or real-time learning. 

Classes will start at 9 a.m. on Mondays, the new “late arrival days,” to give teachers time to prepare lessons for the week. 

Aside from explaining the four learning stages that the district would implement based on pandemic conditions, the district also set some events on the radar for the progression of the school year:

  • Current grab-and-go meal plans will last until Aug. 31, when the district will adjust food services for the start of the school year.  
  • All learning is expected to be completed online for the first six weeks of school. District administrators will then determine if learning can proceed to Stage 2, or “Enhanced eLearning,” for a six-week period, during which certain students will be brought into school buildings. The district plans to prioritize onsite learning at this stage for students with Individual Education Plans (IEPs) and English learners.
  • Seniors will make up their spring SAT tests in their respective school buildings on Sept. 23, and juniors will take the PSAT/NMSQT at schools on Oct. 14.  
  • The district has not provided a specific time frame or set of criteria for when schools will progress to Stage 3 learning, the hybrid model. They stated that due to safety concerns, students at the junior high and high school levels will likely attend a shortened school day and that lunch periods would be cut.  

Once schools begin to gradually bring students back onsite, individuals who signed up for the Online Academy may choose to still proceed with that option. However, since all learning will start online, students will be enrolled in the courses they selected in January at their home schools, and for Stage 1 learning, there will be no distinction between Online Academy and regular classes.


7/31: District 203 has just announced a fully online start to the school year in their “Return to Learn 2.0” plan.  

Every six weeks, pandemic conditions will be assessed to determine the best course of action regarding return to in-person learning. The District’s plan involves four stages: 

  • Stage 1: Fully online learning
  • Stage 2: Enhanced eLearning, where students may return onsite for special services, labs or performance based classes. 
  • Stage 3: Hybrid learning
  • Stage 4: Fully in-person learning

As the school year progresses, students unable to return to a hybrid model may still choose to remain in an online-only learning format.  

The school year will begin on Sep. 1.  A revised calendar pending Board of Education approval has been submitted, with first semester ending Jan. 22, after winter break, and the school year ending on June 10. 

The new plan and revised calendar will be discussed at the Aug. 3 Board meeting.