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EAST DUBUQUE–Superintendent TJ Potts shared with the East Dubuque School Board his plans for the return to school for 2021-22 at the Monday, July 26 board meeting.
Potts sent a survey to board members about their thoughts and feelings about the plan.
“CDC and the Jo Daviess County Health Department recommend that mitigations that we took last year stay in place as much as possible. There are some changes, but we will continue to sanitize the way that we did last year, but the big push is that we are fully in-person,” said Potts. “Our school day will be a full school day.”
Potts noted that as of the meeting date, no students or families had declared that they had intentions to remote learn this school year.
“The only reason we would offer remote learning this year is if a student or a family member has a health-related issue and the county health department writes a letter that states that for those health reasons the student cannot be fully in-person,” said Potts. “At this point, we have not had any students indicate that they were investigating that option.”
Potts said the big issue among districts is masks and whether or not students will be required to wear them, like they did last year.
“I will use the word highly recommended, but at this time there are no mask mandates, so currently we are planning on not requiring masks for students,” said Potts. “I am sure there is going to be a whole lot of guidance between now and then.”
The board was not required to take action on the return to school plan. Instead it was informational and an opportunity for Potts to share the direction the district will take this year.
“Meeting with county school districts, everyone at this point has an optional mask policy,” said Potts. “There is a lot of time left for more guidance to be given by the Illinois State Board of Education.”
Masks will be required on school buses, per federal guidelines.
“The pitch that we (area superintendents) made to the county health department was that Jo Daviess County was one of the most highly vaccinated counties and have a limited number of cases,” said Potts. “Even compared to Carroll and Stephenson counties, their numbers are vastly different than ours.”
Potts asked that the board listen to the community on needs and thoughts on the policy.
“First and foremost, we are glad to be in school,” said Potts. “The guidance that we took last year showed that we can be in school safely. I think the pushback to any mask guidance will be the fact that many have gone all summer without wearing them.”
Cross country co-op
The board also approved a cross-country co-op agreement with Galena School District for 2021.
East Dubuque began its cross-country program two years ago as a pilot program, and in 2021 it was launched as a full-fledged sport for the district.
“The season went really well for our athletes,” said Potts. “As you know, we have been tri-oping for track with River Ridge and Galena for a number of years and there are a few students from Galena that would like to run cross country and they don’t have plans to start their own program this year.”
Galena ran a cross-country program last fall due to the pandemic as that was one of only a handful of sports that were allowed to be run by the IHSA.
“Coach (Michael) Eyres also coaches track and knows many of the kids already, so it felt like this would be a good opportunity for us to collaborate with them,” said Potts.
Potts noted that at a future meeting the district will also discuss a co-op with Galena for girls soccer.
The board also:
•approved an intergovernmental agreement for occupational and physical therapy with Galena.
•accepted the resignations of Sarah Smith, social worker; Nick Rosenow, junior high athletic director; and Doug Lee, junior high football coach.
•hired Romi Heron as a paraprofessional.