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HANOVER–The River Ridge School Board met on Monday, June 22 to discuss plans for the upcoming school year.
Superintendent Brad Albrecht said he hopes to hear more soon and is getting tired of trying to figure out “What ifs?”
“I am getting tired of the ‘What ifs?.’ I am getting tired of the questions,” said Albrecht.
Albrecht said he and the administrative team have talked an hour per day about potential scenarios as they relate to the school opening.
Albrecht said that he is still hearing that masks will be required for all students and temperatures will need to be checked daily to get into the building.
“I have had some parents tell me that they aren’t sending their kids with a mask on and they will keep them home with e-learning,” said Albrecht.
Albrecht said he hopes and is anticipating school opens on time.
Albrecht also said that busing is an issue that the school will have to deal with as the school year approaches.
“I am hoping we have some guidelines on what we can do,” said Albrecht. “Even if it is the worse scenario, you can always pull that back.”
Albrecht is insistent that giving the guidelines to the district soon is vital for the district to begin planning for the next school year.
“Give us the guidelines. Are we starting the school year with face masks? Tell us that,” said Albrecht. “Are we going to have to take their temperature? Tell us that. Are we starting with limited people on the bus? Tell us that. It is all up in the air right now.”
Albrecht said that right now the plan is for school to resume Aug. 18 and he hopes that they will be open full-time.
“If we do open, my game plan, unless they tell us we can’t, is that the teachers are in their room,” said Albrecht. “They will take roll every day, even if the kids aren’t here. It will be more of a set time. They won’t be emailing teachers at 9 p.m. There will be more consistency that way.”
Albrecht reflected that school officials thought the school would reopen throughout the closure.
“I think everyone learned something from that on what we could do in the future,” said Albrecht.
School board flexibility
School board president G. Allen Crist reported on information from the Illinois Association of School Boards (IASB) about the re-opening of schools.
IASB believes that school board will have more flexibility on decisions as it pertains to schools.
“It is expected that local school districts will be able to open the schools,” said Crist. “What was interesting was that it said local school boards must have the flexibility to dictate what is best for their district.”
Crist said it will be beneficial for the district to make a decision on their school as each district is different.
Elementary school principal Beau Buchs began the discussion on e-learning early in the meeting when he presented the board with a survey that was completed to gauge feelings on the district’s e-learning during the pandemic and how parents felt about it moving forward.
“It was good to get some feedback,” said Buchs.
The survey returned with favorable results for the district. It showed that 94.1 percent of respondents had reliable access to a tablet, laptop or computer.
The report also showed that 65 percent of parents frequently talked to their child’s teacher during the survey.
95.7 percent of respondents either agreed or strongly agreed that parents received the support they needed from the school in how to help with schoolwork.
“I took a couple phone calls outside of the survey where people were upset that more work wasn’t required to be completed,” said Buchs. “Once you explain to them what the state told us and how things went about, people understood the situation.”
Buchs said some of the responses were considered in the district’s new e-learning plan that Buchs and high school principal Mike Foltz completed.
Later in the meeting, Foltz and Buchs presented the district’s 2020-2023 e-learning plan that discusses timing, communication, attendance, general expectations and support. Foltz said the plan is more concrete.
Foltz said the guidelines will be the document that constantly changes based on the state’s changes.
“We hope that this isn’t a quarter long endeavor again, but more of something if we need it for a day or a couple days,” said Buchs.
Buchs said the number of e-learning days allowed by the state is expected to change. Currently, the state only allows five e-learning days during a normal school year.
Mike Foltz reported to the board that graduation went well for their first time in that setting. Foltz said there were over 150 viewers on RRTV watching the graduation virtually.
“We had one technical snafu where the last 10 seconds of our valedictorian Kate Walter’s speech was cut off,” said Foltz.
The speeches were prerecorded.
Early on Monday, the school district posted the complete speeches to its Facebook page.
“We actually had somebody hack into the broadcast,” said Foltz. “They started to put some comments in where Mr. (Mike) Dittmar had to do some editing and stop. Once he did that, it cut the 10 seconds off.”
Foltz said that was the only technical glitch of the graduation.
“The graduation went pretty well, I thought,” said Foltz. “The school took responsibility for social distancing as well as we could. All in all, I thought it was a nice night.”
Albrecht thanked Foltz, Dittmar and Susan Miles for organizing the graduation.
He also thanked Shean Albrecht, Buchs and Doug Nicholas for volunteering with traffic control at graduation.
The board also:
•approved a summer school proposal.
•approved SOCS Website+Apps for an updated website which includes a mobile app.
•learned that prom is still scheduled and is awaiting an update from the state on guidelines and what will be allowed. A decision is anticipated soon.
•learned that the district’s accounts have been moved to Apple River State Bank. Prior, the district had accounts in both Apple River State Bank and Illinois Bank and Trust.
“We were getting fees charged to us (at Illinois Bank and Trust) that Apple River said they would not charge us with,” said Albrecht.
•learned that the school will receive $67,386 from a CARES Act grant.
•approved Baraboo Sysco Foods Services, Baraboo, Wis., and US Foods, Coralville, Iowa, for cafeteria commodity bids.
•approved Bimbo Bakeries, Dubuque, Iowa, for bread and bakery bids.
•approved Werhane Enterprises, Lena, for milk/dairy bids.
•approved Elizabeth Garage, Inc. for the wrecker service bid of $100, for the hourly shop rate for vehicle service of $80 per hour and for tire repair, oil and oil filters.
•approved Saunders Oil, Warren, for fuel and bio-diesel bid. Bio-Diesel was a per gallon rate of $1.2117, clear diesel fuel was a rate of $1.447 and unleaded gasoline at a rate of $1.2675.