District must focus on "our kids, our staff"

Crestwood Superintendent Young: School is ready to go

Unit 4 board agrees students need to be back in the classroom

By Nancy Zeman nzeman@prairiepress.net
Posted 8/12/20

Crestwood Unit 4 students return to in-person learning for the first time since March 16 Thursday, Aug. 13, and the teachers and staff are redy to go, according to Crestwood Superintendent of Schools …

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District must focus on "our kids, our staff"

Crestwood Superintendent Young: School is ready to go

Unit 4 board agrees students need to be back in the classroom

Posted

Crestwood Unit 4 students return to in-person learning for the first time since March 16 Thursday, Aug. 13, and the teachers and staff are redy to go, according to Crestwood Superintendent of Schools Danette Young.

Young reported the teachers and staff met Wednesday with representatives of the Edgar County Public Health Department who explain how contact tracing is working. Young said the department is currently making more than 325 tracing calls per day.

If a student is contact traced or is positive the school is only required to send the students immediately surrounding the student home for two weeks.

"We need to look at it on a case by case basis," Young explained, noting if the student in question has moved around the room a lot then perhaps more students would be sent home.

Board member Keith Trogdon reminded those present that despite the best made plans "there are going to be glitches."

Young agreed, noting the real challenges will come if several teachers are contact traced and there are not enough others to fill in for them.

While Mattoon and Charleston school districts in Coles County have opted to move to remote learning for the first quarter, Young emphasized the Crestwood staff — including maintenance director Josh McCarty and dean of students Megan Dahlmer — have put in countless hours making plans, schedules and how students will be entering in the school each day.

Young said the 425 Crestwood students are split about 50-50 on those who ride the bus to school and those who are dropped off by parents. Bus students will enter through the junior high wing door while drop offs will enter through the front door.

Every student boarding the bus will be checked by the bus driver for temperature, the superintendent noted while those arriving will be checked at the front door. All students on the bus must wear a mask and students and teachers must wear masks during the school.

Due to Illinois Department of Public Health restrictions, only 50 students may eat lunch together at the same time. The other students will be eating lunch in their classrooms.

The school start ending times have also changed, Young announced. Teachers and staff will report no later than 7:45 a.m. and students may begin arriving at 7:50 a.m. School will begin at 8:10 a.m. Dismissal will be at 2:50 p.m. with teachers staying until 3:25 p.m. to work with remote learning.

The junior high students — sixth, seventh and eighth graders — will be in the same groups or pods, Young said. "They will be with the same people every day," she said. In addition, there will be no sixth, seventh and eighth grade band and chorus together. Each grade level will meet individually for band and chorus.

Young also announced:

  • Restroom schedules and break schedules have been prepared.
  • Teachers are being encouraged to take their class outside for fresh air when possible.
  • There will be no attendence incentives this year. Students who have a fever, cough, or the flu should stay home.
  • The school has a quarantine room for a student who becomes ill or develops a fever.
  • There will be eight teachers and staff out front taking temperatures while the student(s) are still in their dropoff vehicle.
  • No parents will be allowed in the building.

Young said the children are ready to be back in school. Of the schools 425 students, 60 are enrolled in remote learning. That's a little more than 14 percent of the student population.

"We want them to be back in the building," board member Kit Kirby emphasized. She and fellow board member Mary Liz Wright noted Crestwood is  a smaller school with a smaller student population and may be in school while other school districts are on remote learning.

"We need to focus on our kids and our staff," Kirby said.