Carlinville schools to offer on-site learning in fall

Carlinville schools to offer on-site learning in fall

By: CHRISTOPHER BEST

Enquirer Democrat contributor

During the July 13 meeting of the CUSD1 (Carlinville Unit School District #1) School Board, Superintendent Becky Schuchman announced the district’s intent to offer a “blended” learning experience beginning in the fall that features both on campus and remote learning options five days a week.

On-site learning will return in August, and will be held from 8 a.m. to 3:05 p.m Monday through Friday as it traditionally has been. It will be up to parents to decide if they want their children learning on site or remotely.

Temperature checks and health screenings will be mandatory for anyone entering school buildings. All students, staff and visitors will be required to wear masks and practice social distancing guidelines. No more than 50 people will be permitted to gather in any one space according to the district’s plan. The cleaning and disinfecting of all areas of the building will also be dramatically increased as a proactive and preventative measure against the virus.

The cafeteria will be utilizing individually packaged disposable eating utensils to help prevent the spread of germs, and the number of individuals in the cafeteria at any given time will be greatly reduced.

Outdoor learning spaces are also being created which, among other benefits, will allow students to spread out and take a break from their masks.

The district will be working with the health department to create guidelines on what to do with any students who are found to be sick.

If a student is found to be positive with COVID-19, it is likely that their entire class would be quarantined for two weeks. The final decision on this matter will be made by the Macoupin County Public Health Department.

The option to learn from home will still be available to all students in order to be more accommodating during the pandemic. It is even possible that health department guidelines may necessitate all learning be completed remotely for certain periods of time according to Schuchman.

All e-learning will be equivalent to a typical on-site school day as mandated by the Illinois State Board of Education. To make the transition from remote and on-site learning as seamless as possible, the district will be implementing a computer based learning program called Schoology for all grade levels. Schuchman describes Schoology as “a learning management system.” Using Schoology, parents will be able to view the assignments and grades for all of their children through one single hub.

As part of the e-learning, swivel cameras will be utilized in the classroom that will record lessons by tracking teachers’ movements via a device that the teacher will carry. The video will then be streamed to students at home and can be turned on and off at the teachers’ discretion.

The district will return to its traditional grading format, but all students, both on-site and remote, will be limited to taking four classes at one time instead of the typical 6-8. This was in response to feedback that the course load was too overwhelming when e-learning was first implemented back in the Spring.

The district’s plans for the fall semester were developed by taking into account parent responses to a survey distributed this summer. The surveys had slightly more than a 90 percent response rate with responses from 750 families. Responses indicated that 758 students (62 percent) plan on attending in person, 338 students (27.9 percent ) plan to e-learn/remote learn, 44 students (3.6 percent) planned to be homeschooled, 19 students (1.6 percent) planned to take a blended remote/e-learning and on-site approach while the remaining 5.1 percent chose “other.”

Because on-site student attendance is expected to be down, team teaching could be implemented for lower grade levels according to Schuchman. This could see more than one teacher in the classroom at a time or a scenario where one teacher teaches the on-site learners only while the other teacher handles the e-learning students and their parents.

The district will also be surveying the faculty and staff of all the schools to get more feedback on the re-opening plan as it currently stands.

Other business

A roof bid for the Primary School by Lakeside Roofing was approved for $100,769. Though most of the roof at the Primary School is metal and in fine condition, a portion of the roof over the server room and one other area of the building is leaking heavily. To avoid costly damage to the equipment inside a repair will be made as soon as possible now that the board has given its approval.

The board approved a first read of the Press 104 policy changes. The changes to Press 104 primarily related to the response to a pandemic or other time of health concern. One change allows policies to be adapted in times of a public health concern and other changes related to the implementation of off-site learning.

An updated Serious Safety Hazard Resolution was passed which identifies unsafe routes to schools as outlined by the Illinois Department of Transportation. This allows bussing to areas that might not be far enough to ordinarily qualify for bussing if there is a hazard along the route such as a railroad crossing.

The 2020-2021 calendar was approved. Changes this year included the observation of Election Day, a non waiverable state holiday.

An updated parent student handbook was approved.

An employee health insurance bid by United Healthcare was approved. The bid was 5.36 percent higher than last year. Though a plan with no increase was offered, this plan would likely see its beneficiaries paying out of pocket for COVID-19 testing, feature an increase to some copays and other downgrades from the current plan.

The purchase of two new vans and the trade in of one used van with Victory Lane Ford was approved.

Eric Pauline’s resignation was accepted as a CHS Custodian and the employment of Kristin Siglock as a CHS Social Science teacher was approved.

Next meeting

The school board will next meet Aug. 17 at 7 p.m. at the high school.