Hello Hollis Parents,
I know everyone is anxiously awaiting a plan to get kids back in school. As we wait, I feel the need to reach out, as many of you have expressed questions and concerns about the process and thinking behind a return to school plan.
First of all, THANK YOU to everyone who has already completed the Return to School Survey. Your feedback is very important as we move ahead with our August plans. As you know, Illinois officially moved into Phase 4 on June 26. We received guidance from the Illinois State Board of Education on June 24, that schools will be able to resume in-person instruction as long as we remain in Phase 4. This 60 page guidance document consists of best practices for reopening schools. It relies heavily on guidance from the Illinois Department of Public Health. Our goal in opening our doors is to keep Hollis students and staff safe. We must design procedures that allow students to learn and engage while mitigating their exposure to any cases of COVID.
There are many choices we can make on our path to reopening. To name just a few, some include staggering restroom breaks, assigning students to tables in the cafeteria, and providing sanitizer and frequent hand washing breaks for students. These are just a few of the many practices we can CHOOSE. Unfortunately, there are some practices we MUST adhere to if we are going to get students back into the building. Specifically, there are five guidelines that, as a public school in the state of Illinois, we must follow:
- All individuals must wear face masks.
- No more than 50 individuals can gather in one single space.
- Social distancing must be observed as much as possible.
- Schools must conduct symptom checks before individuals may enter the building.
- Schools must increase schoolwide cleaning and disinfection.
I know these guidelines may sound difficult. I know not everyone believes in the value of masks. I know it sounds impossible for kids to socially distance and wear a mask for any extended period of time. Personally, these guidelines hit me on many levels: as a teacher, as an administrator, and most importantly, as a mom. I have a daughter getting ready to start her 4th grade year and a daughter getting ready to start kindergarten in August. Like many of you, I am anxiously awaiting to hear what their district’s return to school plan will look like as well. Regardless of how we may personally feel about the five steps listed above, we have been told that these steps are based in science and research, and they will help keep our kids safe. As you may know, we have staff and students who are considered high risk. Similar to how teachers use data to drive their instruction, we will use data to drive our reopening and keep our students and staff safe.
While Hollis has not finalized a plan yet, I can assure you that the plan will be based around the adherence of the five points above. Additionally, we will be using the data gathered from the parent survey to design a realistic plan that will hopefully meet the needs of our staff, students, and families. As you know, we will not be able to meet everyone’s needs, but we will do our best with the data and the guidelines we have been given. We have also been told multiple times now that as the virus changes, so will the guidelines. This piece is frustrating for all of us.
Thank you for your patience as we plan and work. No one wants to get back to working with your kids more than we do. We just have to make sure we are doing it in a way that will keep everyone safe. We hope to have a draft plan ready to share with you next week. As always, please reach out with questions or concerns.
If you made it all the way to the end of this email — thank you! It was a long one!
6-8 English Language Arts
Hollis Grade School