Illini Bluffs High School releases back-to-school plan

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GLASFORD, Ill. (WMBD) — Illini Bluffs High School (IBHS) students will be able to head back to school this fall, but things will look a little different with the new safety restrictions in place.

IBHS Superintendent Roger Alvey sent a letter to school families explaining the challenges and considerations the school faced when developing the back-to-school plan.

In the letter, Alvey said about 77% of parents in the school district wanted to return to in-person learning. Despite that, Alvey said the school decided to create a remote learning plan as another option for the 23% of parents that preferred not to send their kids to school.

He said the guidance is expected to evolve over time to address concerns they might have as they come closer to the first day of classes.

The new guidelines are as follows:

  • During registration, parents/guardians will choose either in-person or remote learning for their children. 
  • Due to the amount of planning that needs to occur when employees return, we have changed the calendar.  August 13 will be Teachers’ Institute (no students), and August 14 and 17 will be Remote Learning Planning Days (no students). 
  • The first day for students will be Tuesday, August 18 with an 11:30 a.m. (IBES)/11:40 a.m. (IBMS & IBHS) dismissal.
  • We will dismiss at 2:05 p.m. (IBES)/2:15 p.m. (IBMS & IBHS) every day of the week, Monday through Friday. Our staff will utilize this early dismissal hour to plan lessons and provide additional support to in-person and remote learners.
  • Face coverings will be required for all students and staff while at school. It is important to follow the guidelines set forth by IDPH and ISBE in order to create a safe environment. We encourage you to practice wearing face masks with your child(ren) before school begins. Additionally, we recommend families have multiple, cloth masks as those will need to be washed regularly.
  • Sending students to school is parent certification that the student is temperature and COVID-19 symptom-free – we may do some temperature checking at school entry doors. Currently known symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, chills, fatigue, muscle and body aches, headache, sore throat, new loss of taste or smell, congestion or runny nose, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. Individuals who have a temperature greater than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or have one known symptom may not enter buildings or school vehicles. Any individual who tests positive for COVID-19 or who shows any signs or symptoms of illness must stay home.
  • Individuals who exhibit symptoms at school will be sent home and referred to a medical provider for evaluation and treatment. In accordance with state and federal guidance, school community members who are sick should not return to school until they have met the criteria to return. CDC and IDPH guidelines for school community members who were suspected of having COVID-19, whether they were tested or not, state that 72 hours must elapse from the resolution of fever without fever-reducing medication and 10 days must pass after symptoms first appeared.
  • Individuals who have had close contact with an individual who has tested positive for COVID-19 or is suspected of having COVID-19 infection should isolate at home and monitor for symptoms for 14 days. Individuals who did not have close contact can return to school immediately after disinfection. Close contact means the individual was within 6 feet of the individual who tested positive for COVID-19 or is suspected of having COVID-19 infection for more than 15 minutes. Please understand that these are the guidelines set forth, and ones we must follow in order to maintain a safe environment for all.
  • There may be a time when a portion of our student population has to quarantine at home due to the exposure of an individual or group of individuals. The Peoria City/County Health Department (PCCHD) will help evaluate those circumstances on a case by case basis, and their recommendation must be followed.  Communication in those instances will come from the health department, not the district.  Confidentiality and personal privacy will be kept in regard to personally identifiable information (PII).  We will not share the names of any students or employees that might test positive for COVID-19, or who might be suspected of being positive based on symptoms. 
  • As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, we are encouraging parents/guardians to transport their child(ren) to and from school for in-person learning.  Following the CDC guidelines, school buses must be allowed to have no more than 50* students on board. As a result of these guidelines designed to protect students and staff from the spread of COVID-19, the capacity of our school buses must be reduced. We will be prioritizing students who have transportation written into their IEP and students classified under the McKinney-Vento law, students whose parents are not able to transport using personal vehicles, and students living outside of 1.5 miles from school. Parents/Guardians will be asked during registration if school transportation is required or not.  These students will be routed for the beginning of the school year.

Online registration is also available for the school year through TeacherEase. All returning students should be registered by July 31. Parents can use their TeacherEase account to register their student(s) by clicking on the miscellaneous menu and selecting online registration to begin the process. The $5 convenience fee has been waived during the online registration window.

Parents with new students must visit the school offices to fill out additional forms. Those offices will reopen on Aug. 5. Parents must visit the registration resource webpage to download and fill out a new student registration packet.

The letter reads:

Dear Illini Bluffs Families:

I want to begin by thanking you for being patient with us as we have taken time to digest the return to school guidance from the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) and the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) to formulate our own return to school plan. The development of the plan involved hundreds of hours, multiple committee meetings, and countless revisions. Regardless of the time spent developing the plan, we recognize that some of you are not going to agree with the policies that we put into place. You may not agree with the face mask mandate, the daily early dismissal, or other facets of the approach. We had to develop something that keeps students and staff safe, while simultaneously providing a quality educational product.  Although approximately 77% of our parents indicated a desire to return to in-person learning, we felt it was important to develop a remote learning plan, as well, to address the desires of the remaining 23% of respondents.  

As we continue to learn more about COVID-19 and its impact on our local communities, guidance will continue to evolve. It is very important to understand that these constantly changing criteria will affect our plan, and changes will need to be enacted to adhere to those guidelines. Thus, the plan we have today may not be the plan we have when we start school in August, and the plan will continue to change throughout the year.

With the understanding that things may change and the possibility that we may end up going backward (Phase 3 remote learning), we feel the following elements are critical for our parents and staff to know.

We understand that all of this may be confusing or overwhelming; however, it is imperative that we follow the guidelines so that we minimize risk and create the best opportunity for us to have our children back in our classrooms. Communication is key and we are going to make sure you are informed with the latest information as we know it. All of our communications will be sent through our normal communication channels and we have setup a special section of our website where all of our plans, updates, and information, and more will be posted. If you have questions, please reach out to me or any of the school principals.

These are indeed unprecedented times. Our teachers, staff, and administration are doing everything we can to get our kids back to school while adhering to the guidelines set forth. As I have stated, at any given moment, things may change, and remote learning may need to be employed for either a portion of our student body, or our entire school. We are all in this together and I am confident that we will get through these difficult times. Hopefully, a vaccine or treatment will be available soon, and we will all be able to return to our “normal” lives in the very near future.

Thank you for everything you continue to do for our students and schools and for your understanding.

Roger Alvey, Superintendent

Those that are interested can check out the plan here or at the school’s website.

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