Macomb Schools Superintendent Announces School Start Date and Hybrid Attendance Model

Macomb Schools Superintendent Patrick Twomey sent a letter to parents over the weekend detailing plans for the upcoming school year. In the letter, which you can read in full below, students will be returning to Macomb Schools as of August 24th. This is a week later than the usual start date as the district is taking a week to offer further training for Macomb Schools staff. The Superintendent also announced a hybrid model for attendance that combines in-person, face to face, learning and remote learning. You can read Superintendent Twomey’s letter below…

Dear Parents and Guardians,

I want to take another opportunity to update you concerning our plans for reopening schools in the fall. The Illinois Department of Public Health and the State Board of Education has issued more specific guidance concerning the reopening of schools. In addition we are working closely with our local McDonough County Health Department as well.

I am certain by now you have all seen several models of how schools intend to open in the fall. Some will be 100% face-to-face. These schools tend to be very small and have the space to social distance with their students throughout the day. However, given the current guidance Macomb will be starting the school year with the A-B Hybrid Model. Students in the A Group will attend face-to-face Monday and Thursday while the B Group attends Tuesday and Friday. On Wednesdays the teacher will be live online with both groups at once creating the whole class. On the two “at home academic” days assignments will be posted online or sent home with students to complete during that time. We are also attempting to assist with the student “at home’ days by partnering with a few community agencies to help you with work schedules etc. I will provide more information in the next letter as plans are developed more thoroughly. We also understand in rare instances a student may have the need for online only. We are currently developing a plan for online only K-6 to accommodate those rare pre-approved cases.

According to the guidance at this time from the Illinois Department of Public Health and the State Board of Education, everyone will have to mask while inside the building. I can assure you teachers will develop safe and appropriate ways to take mask breaks periodically throughout the day. I have received several questions concerning the younger students and their ability to mask effectively. I have been in contact with a daycare that has been opened and the director reported to me that masking has not been an issue. One strategy would be to begin now having your child mask for one hour inside and slowly building their tolerance like you do for bedtime routines. In addition, all personnel entering the buildings must have their temperature taken. We have purchased several forehead, non-touch thermometers for every building to expedite the entry process. Please do not send your child to school if they have a temperature or if they had a temperature and you used a fever reducer to lower it.

Our start date has changed slightly. We will be training as a District the entire week of August 17th to ensure we are as prepared as possible to deliver the best instructional experience possible. Therefore, the first student day will be on August 24,2020. The administration team is working now to develop the two student groups. They are being mindful of siblings, doing their best to match the older students on the same schedule as their younger siblings. We will forward that information as soon as that work is complete. We anticipate a few other calendar changes as well. The current calendar shows our school improvement days on Fridays, however if we are in the hybrid model those days will be on Wednesday of the same week. This will make more sense when you are physically looking at the school calendar.

Bus routes will run as normal, however as I’m sure you are aware, we are capped at 50 students per bus. Students must be masked the entire time they are on the bus. I would encourage as many parents as possible to drive your students to school. If you do choose to drive your student to school and they normally ride the bus, please let the bus garage know at 309-836-6806.

Fall sports and band and other activities continue to be questionable. The IHSA and the Illinois Department of Public Health are not in agreement currently, therefore guidance has been slow coming. We will keep you informed as we learn more.

Just as a reminder, we have purchased enough devices to have one per student sent home. In addition, we are developing short tutorials ranging from turning the laptops on to advancing to uploading assignments and fully participating in Microsoft Teams with the teachers. These mini lessons are being posted on our website as they are developed.

The news surrounding Covid-19 is extremely fluid and guidance changes often. I know this is a lot to digest and I want to thank you for your continued patience and support. I will continue doing my best to keep you posted of our decisions concerning school this fall.

Sincerely,

Patrick M. Twomey

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