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Stockton Schools prepare to return to school


STOCKTON–The Stockton School Board approved the district’s return to school plan at its Monday, July 20 meeting. James Bunting, in his first meeting as superintendent, presented the plan to the board and shared changes being made due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Lori Dittmar, band teacher at Stockton, spoke to the board as a concerned citizen.

“When schools closed on March 17, there were 55 new COVID cases in Illinois. We are now discussing bringing back students and there are 965 new cases yesterday,” said Dittmar. “At the time of creating this plan last week, there were 56 cases in the county. As of today, there are 70. I wanted those facts fresh in your mind.”

Bunting went through the main points of the new plan and how to move forward with bringing students back to school.

“We think it gives parents a choice,” said Bunting. “Our return to school plan is going to make class sizes as small as we can.”

Bunting said he hopes to turn classrooms that had been used recently for storage places back into usable classroom spaces.

“We are recommending a five-hour school day,” said Bunting.

Stockton is planning to have the school day start at 7:45 a.m. with dismissal at 12:45 p.m. Students will then receive a grab and go lunch. At this time, students will need to pay for their meals. Students will also receive a breakfast when they arrive at school.

Bunting said students will also be asked to bring their backpack to classes in order to avoid contact between classes.

“Parents will have a choice, you can either send your student to school and do in-person learning or you can do remote learning at home,” said Bunting. “The committee thought everyone would be remote learning at sometime. If we have both working in conjunction with each other, it will make the transition easier if we need to.”

Bunting said remote learning will look different and be more rigid than last year.

Stockton students at the junior high and high school will also move to a block schedule.

“Parents will be asked to self-check their students at home,” said Bunting. “There is a Google Form they will submit to us to show that they are symptom-free.”

A major change for Stockton School District this school year will be transportation.

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“To limit the number of people on a bus, we will follow the state law recommendations on who we pick up and who is allowed to ride the buses,” said Bunting. “State law says that you only have to provide transportation for students that are a mile-and-a-half away from their school building, or there is a hazardous road.”

Bunting said that most of the village would be exempt from transportation except those who live north of U.S. 20.

Board member Todd Vincent asked about Ill. 78 South and if it would be necessary to have an additional crossing guard along that highway. According to Vincent, only one crossing guard is currently located on that highway.

Colleen Fox, Stockton Elementary School principal, said crossing guards are hired by the village and they would have to be contacted to hire an additional guard.

Parents will need to respond by July 31 to let the district know if students will be participating in in-person or remote learning.

The district also moved its first day of school to Thursday, Aug. 20.


Other business:

The board also:

•approved Bunting to transact business on all accounts at Citizen State Bank.

•approved the donation of a fence on school property.

•approved the high school 2020-2021 extracurricular list.

•hired Crystal Riniker as a preschool teacher.

•hired Jenna Sargent as a speech and language pathologist.