The Triopia School District has its own challenges to face when classes resume in the Fall. The school district recently purchased a number of Chrome Books with CARES Act money from the Federal government. Superintendent Adam Dean says that the district is trying to enact a contingency plan should remote learning become a reality again. “We are buying those to try and bridge the digital divide, which is what ISBE asked to do to use our CARES Act money for. We are prepared to go remote again, and do remote learning to be able to provide students the Chromebooks for home. Other than that, they are just going to be used while we’re in session. We are not quite 1-to-1, but we will have enough here for whenever teachers need to use them. We have enough for the jr. high and high school side, so the kids, when we are in session, can pick them up and they will have their own device so we don’t have to worry about cleaning them between classes.”
Dean says that Illinois Rural Electric approached the district to set up wi-fi hotspots in the local communities in the district for students who don’t have Internet at home. Dean said that after review of a district-wide survey that they were not going to go that route just yet because most parents had indicated that they have an Internet connection at home. Dean says they’ve created multiple plans depending upon how Fall instruction plays out surrounding the coronavirus pandemic: “We have started to create 3 plans. Basically, we’ve kind of updated our remote learning plan if we have to go remote again. With our in-person plan, we will do our best to follow ISBE’s guidelines, especially the main things with masks and social distancing the best we can. What we are doing now is putting those plans together. We are meeting with staff to give them an idea of what to expect. We are also creating a hybrid model, too, where half of our kids would be in session every other day. We aren’t sure exactly if we are going to have to go that route, but I want to have the plan together just in case.”
Dean says Triopia is fortunate in that they only have approximately 400 students in the school as opposed to some of the large contingency plans larger districts have to put in place. He says the parent-led survey indicated that wearing facing masks are a point of frustration for about 30% of responders to the survey. Despite the frustrations, Dean says that the district should be able to operate within the Illinois State Board of Education guidelines safely for a somewhat regular school year.