At tonight’s Board of Education meeting, the Board voted to extend the blended learning days (11:30 dismissal with remote learning in the afternoon) through Friday, October 16. The following facts determined the Board’s decision:
The goal of the district is to return students to full in-person instruction while maintaining the safety of students and staff;
The district faces the challenge of providing lunch to all students from one cafeteria and with limited space for students to eat in larger groups;
The district is still limited to no more that 50 individuals per space according to IDPH requirements;
The original reopening plan called for students to eat lunch in classrooms;
After one month of school, it was determined that having students eat lunch in the classroom presented a greater challenge and risk than what was originally discussed when the reopening plan was created as social distancing was an issue;
On Tuesday, September 15, the IDPH approved a plan that would allow the school to subdivide the hs/ms gymnasium in to smaller sections;
The district has developed a plan to create curtain barriers that will run from the rafters to the floor that will allow multiple groups of 50 students to eat lunch in smaller sections while maintaining proper social distancing;
With this plan, the district will be able to seat 50 students in the cafeteria and at least 100 students in the gym (isolated in groups no larger than 50 by barriers). This allows the district to serve students lunch in a safer environment than the classroom;
Students will be seated at individual tables facing in one direction while maintaining at least six feet for social distancing;
The plan to subdivide the district required the district to order tables and barriers. While the tables will arrive next week, the barriers are scheduled to arrive on October 8 and 9;
In order to implement this plan, the district needs additional time for materials to arrive and for work to be completed;
In order to implement this plan, the district needs additional time to develop protocols for lunch periods and to train staff and students.
As a result, the Board has approved that the current schedule will be maintained through Friday October 16. The 1:30 full in-person instruction schedule will begin on Monday, October 19.
The Board also approved a modification to the plan to allow any students who have chosen remote learning to return to school after the conclusion of the first quarter on October 21. Students who choose this option can return to school in person on Thursday, October 22. Any student who wishes to return is asked to contact their building principal as soon as possible to finalize arrangements.
In the meantime, the faculty, staff, and administration will continue to develop strategies to improve the remote learning experience for students. The district will also continue to explore ways to maintain educational opportunities for students who choose remote learning or who are quarantined during the transition to the longer day.
We understand the challenges that this school year presents to students, staff and families. We are committed to working through these challenges. We ask for your continued support and patience while we work through this difficult time. We are IC, and we will succeed.