July 30, 2020
By Jennifer Lane, Editor
The Hardin County School Reopening Committee has met throughout the summer to work out the details of a safe return to school for students amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The first day of student attendance will be Monday, August 10, but teachers would like to meet with all parents during scheduled Parent Teacher Conferences next week.
Monday night, the Hardin County School Board approved the hybrid reopening plan where half of the student population will meet for in-person learning at school in the morning and the other half of the student population will meet for in-person learning in the afternoon. At any time, due to spikes in COVID-19, all students may be moved to remote learning.
Class lists and a.m./p.m. designations will be posted on the high school doors Friday, July 31.
Parents who feel uncomfortable sending their children to school may choose to participate in remote learning. Parents must make that decision by August 7 and can only be changed to in-person learning after the full first semester is over in December.
This unprecedented year has created anxiety and many unknowns for families, teachers and staff. Parents will have the opportunity to discuss their concerns before school starts. Hardin County teachers will offer Parent Teacher Conferences on Thursday, August 6, from 3:00 to 6:25 p.m., and Friday, August 7, from 8:00 a.m. to 3:25 p.m. This is a very important conference and all parents and guardians are highly encouraged to attend. A Google form has been shared on the Hardin County Independent facebook page so parents can sign up for a preferred time slot. Some emails with the link will be sent out, but the school does not have a complete list of emails for all parents. Click this link to access the document: https://forms.gle/9dcf6K8x6MLLsZ2r7
Conferences for EC/Pre-K/Kindergarten students will be held individually with the student’s teacher.
Conferences for Elementary students (grades 1-5) will be held in seminars where small groups of parents will meet with one teacher who will present information about the procedures and expectations of this school year.
Conferences for jr. high and high school students (grades 6-12) will be held in seminars where small groups of parents will meet with one teacher who will present information about the procedures and expectations of this school year.
Parents who have children in both high school and elementary school will need to attend both of those conferences.
Parents who choose remote learning may be given the materials and technology needed to learn from home during the Parent Teacher Conference. This will be based on availability at that time. All parents will be provided two washable cloth masks for each of their students.
Keeping a record of students’ information is important each year, but during a pandemic it’s even more important. Registration papers will be handed out and parents will be asked to stay and fill out the forms to turn in that day. Be sure and bring social security cards and other information needed for completing paperwork that day. Parents will also be asked to fill out a technology survey.
Alisha Foster, Licensed Clinical Social Worker with Family Counseling Center, Inc., will provide two 30 minute presentations Friday, August 7 at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. about mental health awareness for Hardin County students. She will be available throughout the day to speak with parents about their concerns. Her presentations will be held in the jr. high library.
For freshmen students entering their first year of high school, Guidance Counselor Ira Cruson will provide an orientation during English class (in-person and remotely) to answer questions or concerns students may have during their first week of high school. As required for all students this year, mandated by the Illinois State Board of Education and the Illinois Department of Public Health, all who attend Parent Teacher Conferences will be required to wear a mask. Temperatures will be checked and social distancing will be expected.
If you have questions or trouble accessing the Google form to sign up for Parent Teacher Conferences, please call the school at 618-287-7601.
Take the E-Learning Survey
Parents, whether you choose Remote Learning or In Person Learning for your children, please fill out the appropriate survey for each of your children in school.
Grades K-2 Survey
Grades 3-5 Survey
Grades 6-12 Survey
SCHOOL REOPENING FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Submitted by Susan Armstrong, Dean of Students
Q: What will the first few weeks of school look like? Will we start remote, hybrid, or all in school?
A: The decision is dependent on the specific state of the outbreak as we approach the start of school. The current planning for the first weeks of school was presented at the July 27th Board of Education meeting. Updated information will be posted on the Hardin County Independent facebook site and on the school’s website once it goes live in coming weeks. We will assess our plans weekly as the school year begins and adjust them based on the health and safety of our students and staff and the effectiveness of teaching and learning. (See the article above for the current reopening plan.)
Q: Why aren’t administrators committing to bringing all students, all day, right away?
A: We do not yet know if we can keep students and staff safe when all students are in the building. Classrooms are only one part of the plan in our building. We also have hallways, large common areas, multipurpose areas, etc. That information, combined with the current outbreak pattern in our area, will guide the decision of expanding to full day or remote learning.
Q: If we start with a hybrid schedule (students switching between remote and in-school instruction on a set AM/PM schedule), how will that work for my students?
A: At this point, we are adjusting our scheduling models to plan for half of students to be in school while the other half access their classes remotely daily to ensure that no classes are overloaded on any AM/PM class. The size of our school and the complexity of our scheduling arrangements makes this a time-consuming process. Students and families will be informed of their in-school AM/PM schedule in advance should a hybrid schedule be employed. We will ensure that students in the same family will be at school at the same times.
Q: Can a parent keep their student home and just learn remotely?
A: Yes. In mid-July we asked parents if they plan to have their student participate in in-person learning, when available to them, or if they prefer for their student to stay remote. We will establish a process for those students that want to transition to in-person learning. We will be as flexible as we can be, but we need to ensure that we do not overwhelm our school procedures and practices.
Q: What health and safety measures are you implementing?
A: Masks – As required by IDPH, except while eating and during band, face coverings must be worn at all times in school buildings, even when social distance is maintained. All individuals in a school building must wear a face covering unless they have a medical contraindication, are under 2 years of age, have trouble breathing, or are unconscious, incapacitated, or unable to remove the face covering without assistance.
Symptom checks – The State Board of Education is requiring certification in their guidance. We will be implementing some type of certification for temperature and other symptoms. Students who feel sick should stay home, and the quality of our remote learning will allow them to keep learning if they are able. Cleaning – We have enhanced our cleaning procedures to meet or exceed CDC and IDPH guidelines.
Social Distance – The science continues to develop, but we will begin the school year by implementing a six-foot social distance requirement in our classrooms, hallways, common areas, and offices. The hallways will have clear designations and will either be one way or will be “stay to the right” as on roadways.
Quarantining – We are developing procedures in collaboration with the Illinois Department of Public Health on how we will implement quarantining for students and staff who are diagnosed with COVID-19 or have close contact with someone who is later diagnosed with COVID-19. Guidance is still being developed by the health agencies. Details of our plan will be available by the end of July.
Visitors — Per state guidance, we will severely restrict access to campus for anyone other than students and staff. As many parent meetings as feasible will be held remotely, and we are developing a procedure for parents who need to drop off items at school so they do not enter the buildings.
Q: How will you decide if you need to go all remote?
A: Primarily, we will follow the guidance of ISBE and IDPH. However, our local conditions might require us to close before the state says we must.
Q: When will students receive their schedules?
A: Hardin County Jr/Sr. high needs to adjust its master schedule to a new AM/PM schedule and to anticipate a possible hybrid learning scenario with half of students in school in the morning and the other half in the afternoon. Given that, schedules will come out a bit later than they usually do. We expect to send schedules home by the last week of July at the latest.
Q: How will remote learning be graded if you chose this path for your student?
A: Whether you choose in-person or remote learning the grading system will go back to a traditional grading model. All due dates and assignments will be the same for remote learning as in-person learning.
Q: What about sports?
A: The Illinois High School Association has deferred their return to play guidelines to the Illinois Department of Public Health, the Illinois State Board of Education and the governor’s office. IHSA teams can currently conduct limited summer contact workouts within the phase 4 guidelines. However the Department of Public Health is revising those guidelines and a final approval of new guidelines are forthcoming.
August Breakfast and Lunch Menus below:
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