Dist 117 Approves Return to School Plan

By Jeremy Coumbes on August 7, 2020 at 7:19pm

The Jacksonville School Board met in brisk session Thursday night, settling several issues to return to learning for the new school year.

The Re-Opening plan drew the most discussion with several questions from both members of the board and the public. After discussion, the board voted unanimously to approve the plan as presented, which offers district parents the option to choose either in-person learning at their student’s school building, or a remote learning plan provided by a district teacher.

Morgan County Health Department Administrator Dale Bainter says returning to in-person learning is a risk, but the health department will work with the district to reduce the risk.

It is my opinion that attempting in-person learning is a risk. I think we all go into it with our eyes wide open and assist in anyway we can. We do anticipate, having said that, there are going to be days we are going to have students and staff members that are in question, possibly positive.

Times that we put people in quarantine, times that we have people that are contact positive, and we are going to be there to try and limit the exposure, restrict those that need restricted, so that we can have a safe environment.”

Under the plan, students will be in attendance five days a week. Elementary students will have a schedule similar to their normal routine. Middle School students will have a condensed five period schedule and high school students will attend in person learning six periods per day Tuesday through Friday, with all JHS students remote learning on Mondays.

Only elementary students will eat lunch at the school, with meals being brought to the classrooms. Jr. and Sr. high students will have the option to eat a prepared sack lunch available to them as they leave school for the day. JMS and JHS will release for the day at 12:32 pm and 12:35 pm respectively.

Students who remote learn will attend online assignments and compete packets of materials with teachers being available for synchronous learning from 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm each night for elementary students, and 1:30 pm to 3:30 pm for Jr. and Sr. high students.

Superintendent of Schools Steve Ptacek said during the meeting that some flexibility was possible with synchronous learning with teachers in an effort to help parents whose work schedules do not coincide with the times, however it would not be allowed to become an option to not participate.

Ptacek stressed that parent who chooses remote learning for their child, needs to plan to make the commitment to work with the teachers and be involved to assist their child with the remote learning option.

Parents will have until Friday August 14th to choose between the two learning options, and are allowed to change the option until September 4th, after which the student will have to remain in that option for the remainder of the quarter or semester.

2020-2021 Return to School Plan in it’s entirety is listed below.