Tennison gives overview of what hybrid reopening will look like for Lane


A screenshot from the April 8 meeting detailing student groupings behind so-called “Pods,” also known as “Shifts,” which determine the days a hybrid student will attend in person.

Are Lane students ready for an O’Hare-like experience? 

 Principal Brian Tennison and administration held what they referred to as a Town Hall (despite a lack of attendee participation,) this Thursday on the topic of the impending hybrid reopening and its many nuances. Details ranged from the hotly awaited return of off-campus lunch, to addressing the possibility of hectic morning lines snaking into the school, to the announcement that a resigned Mr. Tennison gave in regards to clubs and organizations not being allowed to hold meetings in person after school.  

The principal implored everyone to plan ahead and get to Lane early on school days, reminding everyone of the mandatory daily health screeners, the virtual surveys that determine whether a person meets all the health, travel, and safety requirements to enter school grounds. Checking health screeners could be a major bottleneck of traffic when entering the school.

“In our experience,” Tennison said, “health screeners are the number one thing that slows people down.” 

Getting there early, making sure you’ve checked in prior to entering, seeing if you’re allowed in — all of this brought to mind a specific place. “It’s a bit like getting to the airport,” he would later say.   

Students have to pass the health screener — “Get the green screen at the end,” as Tennison said — and have a temperature less than 100.4 taken at the door. 

“This is the way we take care of each other,” he said.  

About half of Lane students have elected to be in-person. This group is further split into two shifts-specifically shifts A and B. Shift A will attend school in-person on Mondays and Tuesdays, while B will attend Thursdays and Fridays. Wednesdays will be virtual. According to Tennison, around 1100 students will be in the building on any given day. 

Shift A consists of 1039 students in grades 9-12, while 1028 students are in shift B. Shifts were assigned based on lunch periods, according to Tennison. 

For physical education, students will remain in their normal clothes, will not change, and will not enter locker rooms. Lockers will not be used. Tennison recommended sturdy, strong, comfortable backpacks that can withstand the wear and tear that comes with having to carry what is practically a locker-worth of items in one bag. As for recommended gear to bring on an average school day, Tennison spoke of the obvious necessity of cloth masks. An extra mask or two was recommended for students to bring, as some may get wet; Tennison stipulated that students will have to cough, and especially sneeze in their mask, underscoring the need for extras.  

Part of this gear will be the CPS distributed Dell Chromebook laptops that are required to be used by all hybrid students for school. CPS students returning in person next year will also be required to use the Chromebooks. Principal Tennison said the school was set to distribute around 2000 of the laptops. 

In the event that a student does exhibit symptoms consistent with COVID, they would be taken to a “Care Room,” a room designated by the district to be set aside for sick or symptomatic students until a parent or guardian comes to pick them up. 

“Please understand what I’m saying here,” Principal Tennison forcefully said. “Students with symptoms have to be picked up, and cannot take transportation home.” Lane’s designated Care Room is Room 147, formerly the Art Gallery

The lunchroom will have a maximum occupancy of 50 people, meaning many students will have to have off-campus lunch, whether on the lawn or near restaurants. Tennison also floated the idea of using the baseball stadium and its covered space as an area for students to eat lunch, although its use is not fully confirmed yet. Lunchtime will still be 50 minutes. 

“I know this is sad,” Tennison said later in the meeting. “Students cannot stay on school grounds after school.”  

As such, clubs and organizations will not be able to meet in person after school. 

“The only exception is athletes,” Tennison said. 

Athletes after school will have to leave school grounds and then reenter later, along with a separate health screener pertaining to their area of play. 

“I understand what we’re missing here,” Tennison said.  “But I’m hoping coming back into the building will make your heart sing a little bit.”