Winchester School Board Approves Return to School Plan

By Jeremy Coumbes on August 12, 2020 at 10:52am

Community Unit School District No. 1 has approved a return to school plan.

During the regular school board meeting held in the Winchester Elementary School Gymnasium last night, the board voted unanimously to approve the return to school plan, which calls for in-person learning with an option for remote learning.

CUSD No. 1 Superintendent Kevin Blankenship says from the beginning of the process, the goal of the district was to return to in-person learning, in order to provide the most normalcy for students, parents and staff.

We think we have built a plan that is going to be safe and secure for not only the staff, and our faculty, but our kids as well. When we did the surveys of our community and staff, we had nearly 65% to 70% of our community wanted in-person learning.

So we understand that continues to change, but that is what our community wants. So as of right now, that is where we are at. We are going to have an in-person plan that will be 8:00 am to 1:30 pm everyday for kids that choose that, and then we will also have the option for those kids who do not feel safe, they can do a remote learning plan at home.”

Blankenship told the board last night, approximately 10% of the 600 plus students in CUSD No.1 have elected to start the year learning remotely, and he and administrators anticipate that number will continue to rise as the first day of school gets closer.

Blankenship says the district looked at a lot of alternative plans, including moving the start date back to August 24th in order to give their teachers more time to prepare.

But when I talk with staff, and I talk with the school board, and you look at the surveys from the community, we don’t want to risk loosing any days of in-person instruction. So we are planning on next Wednesday, Thursday, Friday having kids in school.

Best case scenario, we are in-person through December, Worst case scenario, we come Wednesday and are shut down Thursday. But in either case, we at least want to get the kids here so they can see their teachers, our teachers can see them, and we can at least start that acclamation process.”

Blankenship says up to this point, the process has been a community wide effort in providing input for the plan. He says though the district needs that effort to continue from the community, especially if both the district and parents alike are forced into a backup plan.

Our community has been great, our faculty staff, the board, students, everybody that has participated in providing surveys giving us ideas and providing input, so I think we have a great plan.

To our community, what I say is just keep following our social media, talking with teachers, talking with people in the community. This thing is changing on a daily basis so, I think even Governor Pritzker has said it- you’ve got to plan. The school district has a plan A,B,C,D, and E, we need parents to have the same A,B,C and D.

We can’t have parents saying ‘the kids are going to school, so I don’t need to plan for anything’, because the expectations we have is, this thing is constantly changing, and we could see this changing on a fairly regular basis, and we could go from in school today to remote, and we need everyone to have a plan on how they are going to handle their students at that point.”

Blankenship says he is in daily communication with the Scott County Health Department, and the return to school plan calls for following health officials recommendations as to if it is safe for students and faculty to remain on an in-person learning schedule.