Viking Newsletter

Jim Calabrese, Superintendent, Taft SD 90

July 19, 2020

Reopening Plan

Please see the attached BOE Reopening Plan document that was shared with the Board of Education at their meeting on Thursday. After the Board provided their initial approval it was shared with our staff on Friday for their review, and we are pleased to share it with our community now. The document outlines the framework of our plan to reopen Taft for students for the 2020-2021 school year. The full plan will be presented to the Board at their meeting in August for their final approval. The information that we continue to receive seems to change on almost an hour to hour basis. This plan is subject to change as we get more information, like better enrollment numbers and medical information.


As you look through the document you will see that my recommendation to the Board of Education is for Taft to reopen for in-person instruction from 8:30 AM - 12:30 PM five days a week. Every person who enters the building will have their temperature taken and be required to certify that they do not have any of the symptoms of COVID 19. For students, we will expect parents to complete the daily certification using either a daily form or some form of technology. Every person who enters the building will also be required to wear a mask for the entire time they are in the building. If there is a documented medical condition a student or staff member may be allowed to wear a face shield, but we will work with that individual and their doctors on a case by case basis to make any such determinations. Students will not eat lunch in school but will be able to still order and receive a grab and go lunch utilizing a similar process that was in place during last year's school closure.


Students will also be required to complete an additional hour of at-home learning. The at-home learning will consist of physical education, music, various social-emotional learning activities, and an extension of classroom activities. At-home learning will be a blend of physical activity and paper-based work and will also include some virtual contact between our teachers and our students.


There is no perfect plan that can account for the wants and needs of all 300 students and their families at Taft. Unfortunately, I expect that not everyone will be pleased with our plan. When making my recommendation I considered many different things but safety and education were always at the top of that list. In the end, I looked at the guidance document that the Illinois State Board of Education put out that asked districts to prioritize in-person instruction for students under 13 years old (which will be all of our students in K-7 grades when school opens). The document also outlined several safety protocols that I believe we can meet.


For this reopening plan, I believe our small size is both a blessing and a curse. Our small size allows us to set-up our classes so we can follow the safety protocols outlined in the guidance from the state. However, being so small we cannot offer multiple programs for our students like other districts. We simply do not have the staff or the resources to offer both in-person and remote learning opportunities at the same time. We understand that this all or nothing plan can be difficult on many parents, but the financial constraints that Taft has cannot be ignored.


I understand that there will still be many individual questions that parents have. Please reach out to me via email or by calling Taft, and I will be happy to speak with you. Beginning Monday our district office staff will be at school full time, so parents can reach us more easily. When calling our school please press 4 to select the district office as the main school office is still closed during our summer hours.

Registration

The most difficult aspect of creating this plan is we still have a large number of parents who have not completed the registration process. I understand that many of our parents wanted to wait to see what our plan will look like, but we still need parents to either register their students for the 2020-2021 school year or let us know that their students will not be attending Taft with the proper documentation that they will be transferring schools or by letting us know, in writing, that parents are electing to home school their children.


If you are having difficulty completing our online registration process please go to our website and select the "online registration" icon on our home page to find information that should be helpful.