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School Reopening Update 7/24/2020

I am pleased to share with you that during last night’s Special Meeting, the Board of Education has expressed their support of the plan recommended to them by the School Reopening Task Force.  Over the last 3 weeks, our School Reopening Task Force, consisting of learners, educators, parents and guardians, and Board member has engaged in over fifteen hours of review of guidance provided to us by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) and Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), as well as extensive collaborative discussion aimed at developing a reopening plan that ensured all of our learners and educators would be kept safe and health, while continuing to be provided a world-class education. I am extremely grateful for the time, energy, and wisdom it took on the part of each member of the Task Force to create a well-rounded and comprehensive plan.

 

Before I begin with the details of our reopening plan, please be aware, the Illinois Elementary School Association (IESA) announced today that ALL Fall Sports including baseball, softball, and cross country are canceled.  We anticipate the IESA to provide further announcements relative to winter sports, including basketball and volleyball, sometime in August.  

 

Although continued work is needed amongst our team of educators to refine some specific details and to review the most recent 103-page guidance document provided by the ISBE yesterday, our Board of Education expressed support of the following reopening plan. Please be aware, the details provided below are tentative and subject to change based on future updates from the Governor’s Office, ISBE, and IDPH.  Some of the information below has already been shared.  The information that is new is listed in bold. 

 

Instruction 

 

  • To align with ISBE’s requirement of a 5-hour instructional day, we are implementing a 4 + 1 model, which includes a 4-hour in-person instructional day followed by a 1-hour remote learning component.
  • The 2020-2021 school year will begin with two Teacher Institute Days on Thursday, August 13 and Friday, August 14.  Learners will return on Monday, August 17.
  • The daily schedule for in-person learning will begin at 8:00 a.m. and dismiss at 12:00 p.m.  Learners are welcome to arrive at school beginning at 7:45 a.m. This shortened schedule will result in learners not having the opportunity to eat lunch in the school.
  • A grab-and-go lunch option will be available to learners and families who are interested.  We will also distribute breakfast meals to learners for the next day when they dismiss.  Therefore, we will not serve breakfast in the school each morning. 
  • Families who are interested will be provided a remote learning option.
  • Our remote learning model will be different than in the spring.  To ensure our remote learners are actively engaged and receiving as close to the same learning experiences as our in-person learners, our educators will provide remote learning families with a structured learning schedule to follow from 8:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.  These learners and families will also be responsible for completing the same (or similar) learning activities during the 1-hour remote learning component that is provided to our in-person learners to ensure all learners are fulfilling the 5-hour instructional requirement.   
  • We will provide families who choose the remote learning option with a remote learning contract that recognizes the parent/guardian as a partner educator, one who will ensure their child is actively engaged in each of the remote learning activities that are provided by the educator.
  • Educators will monitor the attendance of remote learners through active engagement and communication through the Google Classroom platform. The same attendance policies will apply for both in-person and remote learners.  
  • Educators’ assigned activities may have a due date and will be graded using our typical grading practices.   Educators will focus on providing feedback in a timely manner to learners. We believe that providing specific feedback in a timely manner will help improve student learning.  We also expect our learners to submit assigned activities on time and will be provided a grade on those assigned activities.
  • Families are required to select the in-person learning option or remote learning option for the entirety of the 9-week quarter, with the option to switch their selection at quarter's end (mid-October). Families must complete the School Reopening Parent Survey by Friday, July 31 to make their selection. 
  • Bus service will be provided.  All riders are required to wear masks and social distancing on the bus will be maintained as much as possible. It will be required for family members to sit together on the bus.

School Safety  

  • All learners and educators will be required to wear face masks, following guidance provided by ISBE and IDPH. We will work to embed opportunities to exit the building for an outdoor face mask break.
  • Families will be expected to self-certify (take your child’s temperature and monitor symptoms) each morning prior to 6:30 a.m. and communicate daily with school staff through an online platform the results of their self-certification process.
  • Learners may be subject to a symptom screening process prior to boarding the bus or entering the building. Families must have a plan in place to pick up their child at the bus stop or from the school in the event the child is identified by school staff as expressing symptoms.
  • Measures will be implemented to minimize any items being transferred between home to school.  Learners will be allowed to bring a book bag to carry necessary materials such as their 1:1 device, breakfast/lunch meals, and a water bottle.
  • We will provide a scheduled opportunity for families to drop off school supplies into the classroom prior to the start of school.
  • Educators will provide frequent opportunities for learners to wash their hands.  Educators will also be responsible for providing the necessary amount of hand sanitizer to each child rather than have each child using the pump mechanism on the top of the hand sanitizer dispenser.
  • We will limit the travel of our learners through the hallway, with educators traveling between classes rather than learners traveling to different rooms for Specials classes or Junior High transitions.
  • All non-essential visitors will not be allowed entry into the building.  Mrs. Van Duyne will greet visitors and address their needs at the main entry doors.
  • We will follow CDC and IDPH guidelines for learners who are suspected of having COVID-19, whether they were tested or not, which state that 72 hours must elapse from resolution of fever without fever-reducing medication and 10 school days must pass after symptoms first appeared.
  • We will immediately separate any individual who shows symptoms from the rest of the school population.  The symptomatic individual will be placed in an established separate quarantine area until a family member arrives to pick up the individual.
  • Through contact tracing, we will identify any individual who had close contact (within 6 feet for 15 minutes or more) with someone who tested positive or is suspected of having COVID-19 and require them to isolate at home and monitor symptoms for 14 days (10 school days).

 

I appreciate all of the families who have completed the new online registration process for the new school year.  Please note, whether you choose in person instruction or remote learning to begin the year, all learners must be registered.  If you have not done so already, please log into your TeacherEase parent module, at which time you will be prompted to register your child before navigating to any other screen.  If you know of anyone new to the district, please direct them to our district website at www.ggs72.org where they will find a New Student Registration Link under the Resource tab. A Registration Day has been scheduled for Friday, July 31 during which you can pay registration fees, submit medical and dental exam forms, or simply access a computer to complete the online registration. If you have any questions or need guidance with this registration process, please contact our office at 815 237 2313.   


As always, if you have questions, please reach out to us at 815 237 2313 or via email at mmerritt@ggs72.org.