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Potts: East Dubuque's return-to-school plan ‘could change at any minute’

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EAST DUBUQUE–The East Dubuque School Board approved the district’s return to learn plan unanimously at its Wednesday, July 22 meeting.

Superintendent TJ Potts presented the plan to the board and discussed some of the key points. According to Potts, the plan was to be sent to parents the following day along with a survey asking parents if their students would return to in-person learning or if they would take part in remote learning that will be offered by the school. Potts wants the surveys completed by Aug. 1 for planning purposes.

“I think we have to acknowledge the fact that we have to have options,” said Potts. “Not everyone is going to feel 100 percent about any plan that we come up with. We need to come up with multiple plans or options for people. That is the same for staff. We want to express that we respect where everyone is coming from, because everyone has a different situation when it comes to this pandemic. We are all in different boats when it comes to our home lives, our loved ones, potential exposures and all of that. There are a lot of layers to this thing. Those are all things we had to take into consideration.”

Potts said the plan is thorough and presented a PowerPoint synopsis of the plan to the board.

“I want this to be exciting because we are talking about getting back to school,” said Potts.

Potts said it is a phased plan as school officials have taken time to digest the information coming in while developing the plan.

“Any plan we come up with comes with the caveat that it could change at any minute,” said Potts. “Last week I was almost certain that the state was going to call for remote learning. There were rumors and sentiments and a lot of feelings and emotions. We received information on Friday that it was just a rumor.”

Potts said he will take the time to talk to any concerned parent.

“We are asking families to make a decision and we need to hear from them on what their decision as a family is,” said Potts.

Potts said schools have to look different with guidelines from the state. Potts informed the board that anyone who goes to school will need to wear a mask.

“I bring that up because that is the first guideline from the state and also that there are a lot of parents that responded to the survey that they feel good going to school but not necessarily that they have to wear a mask,” said Potts. “I need you to know right off the bat that it is not negotiable. The state is saying that if you are in school, you are wearing a mask.”

East Dubuque will include times throughout the day where students will go outside to allow them to take the mask off.

“To be in school, kids are going to have to wear a mask,” said Potts. “If parents don’t like that, there is an option, it is remote learning. I apologize to have to put it bluntly, but that is what the option is.”

Potts said if a student won’t wear a mask, that student will opt into remote learning.

“We understand our younger students will take some time,” said Potts. “It will take some time, it will take some practice. We aren’t going to kick them out of school. The message is that they need to have a mask.”

Potts explained more changes that will be required and mandated due to the return to learn plan. He feels good about having a school day with students in the building.

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Collective bargaining agreement

The board approved the collective bargaining agreement with the East Dubuque Education Association.

“I want to thank those involved from the teachers union,” said Glen Foote, board president. “There were many meetings and a pandemic in the mix of it. We got through things and came to agreement between us.”

Foote said there was nothing substantial in the agreement between the parties.

Foote said the base salary increased $700 to $36,000.

“It is a one-year contract due to where we are at,” said Foote. “We want to make sure that we can provide them what we can and they deserve the most we can offer.”

“Our base is near or ahead of many districts around us. We are behind a couple,” said Potts. “We said that we want to be near the top for teacher salaries and in this case that puts us near the top in our area and it is a very good thing.”

 

Other business

The board also:

•hired Sally Lange as a music teacher.

•hired Riley Asche as a physical education teacher.

•hired Tiffany Thew as an art teacher.

•hired Karen Johanssen as a bus driver.

•accepted the resignation of Kelsey Hammons, art teacher.

•accepted the resignation of Tonya Link, first grade teacher.

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