Rhonda Silence

Increase in COVID-19 cases does not impact school yet

School District 166 held its regular monthly meeting Thursday, March 18. WTIP’s Rhonda Silence spoke with Principal Megan Myers about actions taken at the meeting, noting the recent increase in COVID-19 cases in Cook County. WTIP asked Principal Myers what impact this will have on the school’s current education model.

Myers said she appreciated the opportunity to explain why the school can continue in the hybrid model, despite the uptick in COVID-19 cases. She said the school looks at more than the number of cases in the county. Myers said there are other factors because the state “Safe Learning Plan” guidelines have changed.

Schools are now asked to look at how cases are affecting the school–are there students, teachers, or staff in quarantine because of exposure? Has anyone affiliated with the school tested positive? As of March 19, Myers said there are no teachers or students quarantined or ill with COVID-19.

Myers noted that the school will be on Spring Break March 22 – 26. She urged families to take care during the break. If they travel they need to do so as carefully as possible and they need to be prepared to isolate when they return, if necessary.

No more snow days?
In somewhat related news, the school board discussed “E-Learning Days,” which will happen if there is a need to cancel school. If school is cancelled because of weather or some other issue, the school district is building “E-Learning Days” into the school calendar. Teachers will be prepared to do distance learning on those days.

Board approves an anaphylaxis policy
The School Board heard from the school nurse, RN Alex Miller, who proposed adding an anaphylaxis policy for the school. There is currently no policy in place for students or staff who may have anaphylaxis and do not have an epi-pen with them. Miller proposed having some epi-pens on hand to be used in an emergency. The nurse’s office would see that the epi-pens are monitored and kept up-to-date. The board accepted her recommendation and this policy will be enacted at the school.

Lunch open campus for 10-12th grades
A subject that has been controversial in years past–open campus for students over the lunch hour–was discussed at length. It was noted that students have been working on their own, establishing their own schedules, and showing responsibility with distance learning. Principal Myers said it may be difficult for these students who have been very independent for almost a year to suddenly be confined to the school building over the lunch hour.

Myers also added that allowing some students to leave the school campus over the lunch hour also lessens some of the issues with having enough space to socially distance while eating.

The school board had many questions about how it would work. Myers explained that this is something that will be available for 10-12th grades for students in good standing.

Assistant Principal Mitch Dorr said he had contacted the local businesses who might be visited over the lunch hour to see if they had concerns. He said none of the businesses were concerned and they would welcome the students. Dorr added that throughout the pandemic when he had seen students downtown, at Subway, for example, the students were following CDC COVID-19 guidelines. He said he was very proud of the behavior of ISD 166 students that he had seen at local businesses.

In other business:
* The school had another report from the student School Board representative Olivia Nesgoda.

Assistant Principal Mitch Dorr gave kudos to two Cook County athletes–Kalina Dimitrova and Arianna Poirer. Kalina went to the State Alpine meet and did very well. Arianna Poirer recently made her 1,000th basket as a CCHS Viking basketball team member.

* Assistant Principal Dorr also asked for authorization to hire an additional softball coach for this year. He said it would be helpful to have an adult available to screen players for COVID-19 and to work with students in smaller groups at practices.

* Principal Myers also recognized the members of the Cook County robotics team. She said “Team Ice Storm” has not been able to compete this year, but they are still meeting and building robots. She said the team will be doing a robotics demonstration for the elementary school. She commended the seniors who have been on the robotics team for several years, John VanderHeiden and Patrick Pierre.

* Dorr also said he has been reaching out to all of the parents of seniors, to discuss plans for graduation this year. He also said a date has been set for prom. The date selected will be April 17, but he added there are still details to work out on that.

* The school board also gave the final approval of its Indian Policies and Procedures (IPP). This has been discussed and reviewed at the last few meetings with some changes made. The Local Indian Education Committee (LIEC) has endorsed the latest draft.

WTIP’s Rhonda Silence spoke with Principal/Acting Superintendent Megan Myers about all this and more.