School districts release plans for fall semester
By: JACKSON WILSON
Enquirer Democrat Reporter
Although there is still potential for change, Macoupin County school districts are doing their best to put together the safest plans possible as students get ready to go back to school in two weeks.
The Carlinville Community Unit School District No. 1 plans to initiate blended learning of in-class and remote formats five days a week.
All entering school buildings will be required to wear masks plus participate in temperature checks and health screenings.
No more than 50 people will be permitted to gather in one space according to the district’s plan.
Cafeteria employees plan to utilize individually packaged disposable eating utensils to help prevent germs from spreading.
Outdoor learning spaces are additionally being recommended so students can spread out from each other while taking a mask break.
Students will continue to have the opprtunity of learning from home in order to be more accomodating during the pandemic. E-learning shall be equivalent to a typical on-site school day. The district is implementing a computer-based learning program called ‘Schoology’ for all grade levels. Superintendent of Schools Becky Schuchman described this system as a “learning management system” during a Board of Education meeting July 13.
Swivel cameras will be utilized within a classroom to record lessons while tracking teacher movement via a carried device. Videos can then be streamed to students who are at home and turned on or off at the teacher’s discretion.
The district is returning to the original grading format. However, all students, both on-site and remote, will be limited to taking four classes instead of the typical 6-8.
Team teaching could be a possibility for lower grade levels due to the on-site attendance expecting to be down.
Faculty and staff will be filling out surveys to get more feedback on the re-opening plan.
The Gillespie Community Unit School District No. 7 has decided start the upcoming school year remotely, as announced by superintendent Shane Owsley at a meeting July 20.
Board of Education members didn’t take a vote on the matter, but Owsley said that discussion had already gotten underway and that the board was very well involved in that process.
The board will be assessing the remote learning process every three to four weeks, according to Owsley.
All extracirricular activities, including sports, are on hold until further guidance is issued.
Classes will not be in session Tuesday, Nov. 3, due to the possibility of school buildings being used as polling places for the upcoming election.
Students within the Staunton Community Unit School District No. 6 are encouraged to bring multiple masks to school with them each day when in-person learning starts. All worn masks should be taken home overnight and washed. Masks are not to be shared with anyone. A neck gaiter or any other type of face covering will be acceptable as long as it covers both the nose and mouth and is deemed to be school-appropriate.
Students will attend school Monday through Friday on a shortened staggered schedule.
Elementary school students will attend class from 8:45 a.m. to 2:45 p.m.
Junior and high school students will be in session from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Daily attendance will be taken and the standard grading scale will be used for all students, whether they are learning in-person or remotely.
Remote learners will be given a device and assigned to participate in the same ‘Schoology’ program that remote Carlinville students are enrolled in for the entire fall semester. Teachers will communicate with parents at least once a week and reach out to their students daily using the program’s ‘Conferences’ feature.
All students who are sick in any way must stay home, even if they are given medicine. They must be fever-free without the aid of medications for three days before returning to school.
All students taking the bus will be dropped off in the bus lane and will be dismissed for re-loading on a staggered schedule.
Although teachers are recommending students attending school in-person to get the best quality learning experience, parents will have the choice of putting their children in either remote or in-class environments within the Mt. Olive Community Unit School District No. 5. They are to make that decision in a registration packet that will be sent and completed by mail.
Unlike the previous spring semester, certain policies will be in effect for all students involved in remote learning. Students must attend class from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. daily. After that, they will have until 3:45 p.m. to set up further one-on-one connections with teachers.
Any unexcused remote learning absence will result in regulation violations illustrated in the district handbook.
All students will be receiving a letter grade, regardless of what learning model they choose to follow.
Face masks are to be worn at all times while inside a school building, but they will not be required outside as long as six-foot social distancing is being practiced. All who fail to follow these regulations will be sent home.
Signs will be posted all around each school building and on buses in order to give each student a better understanding of where they need to go or what they should do to make the learning environment the healthiest for their teachers, classmates and drivers (distancing, sanitization procedures, etc.).
Classroom seating will be rearranged. Different plans will be made for special classes coming to homerooms in order to cut down on travel distance throughout the building. Specific seating will be assigned on buses. Meals will be served in student classrooms to limit large gatherings.
The water fountains in each building have been upgraded to bottle-filling stations. All students using bottles should write their names on the front and have a lid screwed on the top to prevent spilling when taking them into classrooms.
If the weather cooperates, band and physical education classes will always be held outdoors.
Behind-the-wheel driver’s education is allowed as long as there is only one instructor and a limit of two students per vehicle, the prohibition of eating or drinking, windows opened when possible, proper sanitization/hygeine is practiced and face masks are worn.
If need be, everyone will be re-assigned to remote learning if the schools need to go into another lockdown during the year.
The Southwestern Community Unit School District No. 9 plans to start off the school year with in-class learning as the top recommendation for all students.
If remote learning needs to be selected as an appropriate option, a student must remain committed to that until the end of the fall semester.
Facemasks will be required, except for students and staff members who have documented health issues that prevent them from wearing a mask. A note from a pediatrician or family practice doctor will be required.
Temperature checks will be conducted for every individual entering the buildings each morning. This will be done by holding wrists in front of kiosk thermometers.
School will begin each morning at 8:10 a.m. and follow its 2:05-2:10 p.m. dismissal schedule Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday each week. Wednesday will be a remote learning day with no students in attendance. This will allow more time for one-on-one student-teacher communication, increased cleaning and sanitizing at the end of the day and mid-week, staff collaboration, instructional planning and professional development. It will also reduce the amount of time students and staff are asked to wear a mask.
Breakfast and lunches will be served each day. However, the menus may be different than in the past due to a few meals being eaten in locations other than cafeterias.
Both in-person and distanced learning will be offered to students in the Bunker Hill Community Unit School District No. 8.
In-person learning will maximize instructional focus on critical skills, specifically in mathematics and literacy. A focus will additionally be ensured for social emotional learning, physical/mental health and safety.
Distant learning will consist of curriculum, instructional minutes and schedules consistent with in-person lectures. This instruction, which will take place between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m., will be networked with independent practices of skills taught during live sessions. After four weeks, students will have the opportunity to switch to in-person or continue for the entire first quarter if they should choose to start off with distanced learning.
Special education students will be eligible for small in-person or virtual services.
Students will have their temperatures taken prior to getting on a bus or entering their school buildings daily. Any individual with a temperature over 100.4 degrees will not be permitted inside. Children experiencing symptoms of a cough, sore throat, fatigue, body aches, new loss of taste/smell, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea must stay home.
Upon arrival to school, students will sanitize their hands and go immediately to their classrooms. They may enter as early as 7:30 a.m. and will be dismissed at 2 p.m.
Lockers and locker rooms will not be used.
Students are encouraged to bring a clear water bottle to school each day and will be allowed to refill it as needed.
Teachers will rotate instead of students at the junior high level.
Desks will be disinfected in-between classes at the high school.
Students will eat and have recess with classmates only at their own grade level.
The North Mac Community Unit School District No. 34 re-opening plan consists of four different stages.
The first step of the plan, E-learning, will most likely be used at this current point. If so, the district may cease with in-person instruction for all students after they pick up all their textbooks and other resources for the upcoming year.
Should circumstances dictate that the state takes a step back in its re-opening process COVID-19, or other potential situations come about that would require the district to reduce class sizes, it may become necessary to institute a Blended Learning Program. The plan, which could very well be used in Phase 3 or 4 of the Restore Illinois plan, includes reduced in-person class sizes, combinations of in-person and remote students, deep cleanings of buildings every Wednesday, potentially shorter in-person instruction days and social distancing.
If the state remains in Phase 4 or advances to Phase 5, all of the students could return on a full-time basis while wearing masks and participating in symptom screenings and temperature checks before entering the school buildings.
Once a vaccine or highly effective treatment is widely available, or the elimination of new cases occurs over a sustained period, the district will attempt to return to its normal operations.
Complete editions of the re-opening plans can be found on the school district websites.