The Oblong Unit 4 Board of Education began making plans to start the next school year.
But like every other school, what the beginning of school will look like is yet to be determined.
“We’ve been directed by the Illinois State Board of Education to develop plan A, B and C and prepare for all three,” Oblong Unit 4 Superintendent Jeff Patchett said. “We don’t know what will happen, no one does, but we’re hoping the state will be in Phase 4 by then and we can all get back to in-person instruction.”
Patchett said the schools are thinking about methods they can use to limit class sizes and limiting the number of students in common areas such as lunchroom and playgrounds and cleaning protocols for all those areas.
“We go through a lot of extra cleaning during cold and flu season every year, so that’s something that we’re pretty well prepared for.”
Patchett said that the teachers and staff learned many lessons from the experience of the end of this school year they can take forward, but will be looking to have more training opportunities for remote learning situations in case that is the situation next school year.
“I have some mixed feelings about remote learning based on our experience,” Patchett said. “Our students and teachers did a great job adapting on such short notice. But as time wore on, it became harder to get students to log in and get their lessons. It comes down to understanding the needs of each students and meeting their individual needs.”
Another area of concern is transportation, limiting the number of students on busses. Like other districts in the area, Oblong struggled with having enough drivers for all of their routes last year and splitting routes or running more route would be a real challenge.
Patchett said that summer school has been approved for students who need a little extra help during the break, but it will be postponed. “We normally start in early June after the students have a short break and run for five weeks. We’re shooting to start in July and maybe just count back five weeks from the start of the school year,” Patchett said.
In new business, the board tentatively approved a budget for the 2020-21 school year and set a hearing date of June 22 at 5:50 p.m. To accommodate the full required time for the budget to be open for public review, the next regular meeting of the board had to be rescheduled.
The board also approved district fees for the 2020-21 school year.
In personnel matters, the board accepted the resignation with the intent to retire from Penny Carman.
The board also approved athletic training contracts with Crawford Memorial Hospital and approved First Agency Inc. as the student accident insurance provider for the 2020-21 school year.