McHenry High School District 156
Sept. 25, 2020
An important message from Dr. McTague
Dear Warrior Family,
I hope this letter finds you and your family well as we enter the second month of our school year. We appreciate the involvement of all of our families while we work together to make sure students thrive with digital learning. I’m proud of the way our school community has responded with flexibility to navigate this new environment.
The McHenry Department of Public Health has finalized and publicly released return-to-school metrics and recommendations. McHenry County school districts will be able to use the public health metrics as one factor in their decision-making process and timeline for when they may advance to a hybrid or in-person instructional model. These metrics can also be used as a factor in determining if a school needs to reverse course and return to a previous instruction model if numbers increase.
Having new public health metrics to use as part of our decision-making process is absolutely critical. We highlighted often changing or conflicting public health guidance as one of the reasons in our decision to move to a digital learning model at the beginning of the year. See this link for health information and school recommendations from the McHenry County Health Department, and this link for interim guidance.
The McHenry County School Metrics are intended to be used in conjunction with the ISBE Transition Joint Guidance document developed by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) and the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH).
So what does this mean for us? At this time the new MCDH metrics are indicating that schools can make preparations to return to school in a Hybrid Model. We have started the process to plan and develop a return-to-school hybrid model timeline in conjunction with our feeder Districts 15 and 36. However, we must still be able to comply with all IDPH guidance and requirements (social distancing / limits on gatherings).
If we move to a hybrid instructional model it will include a remote alternative for students not returning for in-person instruction. We will meet with District 15 and our transportation department next week to discuss and coordinate a potential timeline as much as possible. In the meantime, we’ll continue to phase students needing support and identified courses back into the building.
Small learning groups return to school
We are happy to be able to welcome small groups of students back to the buildings for in-person learning opportunities. To meet health and safety requirements, these groups of students, on a voluntary basis, attend special meetings in the buildings once or twice per week.
This week we welcomed our band and choir programs and look forward to seeing our manufacturing, and INCubator students back in the building one or two days a week in small groups starting next week.
We also welcomed more than 40 students who required additional intensive intervention determined by the student services teams for extra support as well as special education students in self-contained classes.
On Wednesday, we enjoyed having more than 350 seniors at West Campus and more than 150 students at East Campus to take the SAT examination. Several athletic teams are also fully engaged in fall competitions while others are having “contact day” practices and strength training.
I am pleased to inform you that the District 156 school board voted this week to decrease student fees by 50 percent for the 2020-21 school year to reflect the historic impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the community.
Registration fees are now $130 rather than $260. Athletic fees and other fees will be reduced, as well. Accounts will be credited to reflect the changes for those who have already paid the fees.
Please see this article for more information, including comments from board members.
I would like to invite you to fill out a Digital Learning Survey to help us evaluate our digital learning program so we can continue to evaluate the plan and make improvements.
Click here to access the survey.
Again, thank you for your support during this challenging time. I want to assure you that we are committed to providing the most engaging and rigorous educational experience to our students, regardless of whether it is digital or in-person. I will continue to update you on our tentative hybrid return-to-school plan and timeline. Thank you for your support.
We are Warriors and We are One!
Ryan McTague, Ph.D.
Superintendent of Schools
MCHS choir groups at West Campus
MCHS vocal groups, including Surround Sound, returned to school for the first time Sept. 21 as part of the effort to bring small groups back for in-person learning opportunities.
MCHS band at East Campus
Small groups of band students also returned to school this week for in-person work.
Fall activities underway
MCHS activities, including sports, have started the school season with safe practices of wearing masks and maintaining distance. We are so happy to see students!