UPDATE: Remote learning continues until Nov. 30
By: DANIEL WINNINGHAM
Enquirer~Democrat managing editor
Becky Schuchman, superintendent for the Carlinville Community Unit No. 1 School District announced Nov. 5 that schools would go to remote learning.
This starts Friday, Nov. 6 for Carlinville High School. For those attending other schools, they will start remote learning Monday, Nov. 9. This includes Carlinville Primary School (K-3), Carlinville Intermediate School (4th and 5th, plus Pre-K) and Carlinville Middle School (6th through 8th).
Schuchman explained the decision-making process in a seven-paragragh letter.
“We will remain remote for the week of Nov. 9th,” she said. “We will evaluate the health of our staff, students and community at the end of the week. If possible, the plan will be to return to in-person learning Nov. 16.”
Staff will be working from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. each day and many students have times they are required to actively participate. The district’s Intermediate Building (450 West Buchanan Street) and High School (829 West Main) will have areas set aside for those needing an internet connection.
Continued increases in area COVID-19 levels led to going with remote learning.
“Over the last weeks the number of positives have increased across the county,” Schuchman said. “We have had to quarantine several students and classes as more people are testing positive. Since Monday, the county has had 74 positive cases and 38 of them have been in the Carlinville area. Fifty-one percent of the positives in the county over the last three days have been in our community. Those positives impact our students and staff. In order to keep students and staff healthy, we have decided to transition to remote learning for the next week (November 9th – November 13th) and then determine if grade levels, buildings or the entire district can reopen safely on Nov. 16.”
Schuchman provided a list of factors which will go into the decision-making process for potentially returning to in-person learning.
“Factors that will be monitored over the next week include the following: health of staff, health of students, positivity rate in our community, health trends across the county and the number of individuals associated with the schools under quarantine,” Schuchman said. “There are no set numbers as this will be looked at as a whole but also by grade level to determine what is best for students and staff at every level. We want to return to in-person learning as quickly as possible but without ignoring rising health concerns.”
Schuchman said the final call was made by her, with assistance from staff as well as those serving on the School Board.
“I ultimately made the decision but it is with input from staff and general support of the Board of Education,” she said. “These times are very unprecedented and so many decisions have to be made quickly based on current data. All of that goes into making the decision.”
Going to remote learning for the long haul would likely require a board decision, according to Schuchman.
“If we were going to be remote for a long period of time then the Board of Education would need to vote and approve a long term plan,” Schuchman said. “However, for intermittent periods related to the health and safety of students and staff a formal vote by the Boardof Education is not needed. In general, having to go remote or in-person was all part of the initial return to learn plan which included remote and in-person guidance. It was approved by the Board of Education.
The district had nearly 85 percent of students in-person at the 6-12 grade level and approximately 90 percent at the Pre-K through fifth grade level prior to the Nov. 5 decision, according to Schuchman.
Since the start of the school year, the district has notified parents of any changes.
So far, 22 letters have been posted by Schuchman, with 10 of those indicating positives tests within the district.
A list of all the letters from the district can be found online at: https://www.cusd1.com/apps/pages/index.jsp?uREC_ID=1085270&type=d&pREC_ID=1909361
Continual district updates
Earlier this month, Schuchman said parents have shown support for the district’s approach this school year.
“Parents and the community have been extremely supportive of the school district, staff and our students,” Schuchman said Nov. 2. “Everyone understands that there are going to be positives and that we are trying to follow protocols to remain in-person.”
The district has been taking recommendations from health officials regarding the wearing of masks and social distancing, and this hasn’t been an issue with students, Schuchman said.
“Students wear their masks and are very good about having them and keeping them on all day,” she said. “We try to have times outside that students can take masks off.”
The MCPHD has provided daily updates to Schuchman regarding positive cases in Macoupin County.
“I receive daily updates from the MCPHD regarding positive numbers across the county,” she said. “We are constantly monitoring the situation across the county and region.”
Schuchman said sports teams are still allowed to have activities during the remote learning.
“Practices and activities have been very limited based on IDPH guidelines,” she said. “Our schools are not closed. We will continue on that very limited basis.”
UPDATE: Schuchman announced in a Nov. 12 letter that district schools would operate remotely until Monday, Nov. 30.
Due to the continued high number of positive tests in our area as well as the metrics related to the health care community, Carlinville CUSD#1 will remain remote until Monday, November 30th. We understand that this creates hardships for parents and guardians with child care and supporting learning through a remote format. However, we are hopeful that the 7 additional days of remote instruction due to this local outbreak will allow our staff, students and community to become healthier and that we will be able to finish the semester strong.