High school board: COVID-19 guidance still not received

Rochelle Township High School District Superintendent Jason Harper said at the board of education’s monthly meeting Monday that he has still not received COVID-19 guidance from the state for the upcoming school year.

‘If we don't get this by the end of June, it's going to be crunch time like it was last year’

ROCHELLE — Rochelle Township High School District Superintendent Jason Harper said at the board of education’s monthly meeting Monday that it has still not received COVID-19 guidance from the state for the upcoming school year. 

Guidance was previously expected to come sometime this month from the state board of education and the Illinois Department of Public Health. Harper said he’s hoping that as some later-starting schools finish up this month, the state will start to put out guidance. 

“There's a variety of things we're waiting to hear about in terms of guidance from quarantine and isolation procedures, to vaccinated vs. unvaccinated guidance, how does that differ from staff to students, transportation, meals, social distancing and masking,” Harper said. “I could go down the list more. My point is if we don't get this by the end of June, it's going to be crunch time like it was last year.”

Harper said RTHS Principal Chris Lewis and Dean of Students Brett Zick are currently working with staff on the student handbook for the upcoming year after COVID-19-related changes last year. 

“Obviously we've gone through this incredible year where we didn't have lockers, kids were carrying their backpacks and water bottles and phones and all of that stuff, typically we haven't done that at RTHS,” Harper said. “They will talk about that stuff with our teachers as we move into next year. The work is still in process.”

During his report, Lewis said there are 380 students currently participating in summer school at RTHS. The current system is in-person and online classes. Classes started June 1 and will finish July 14. 

Lewis said more students, including those whose learning was impacted by COVID-19 changes, are taking credit recovery classes this summer. 

“Statistically, once you're off track, it's very difficult to get back on track,” Lewis said. “We feel if we can use that catch up class, get kids back on track and get them back in the building five days a week, we can really correct things. As you guys saw, there were about 50-100 kids that were kind of off track. This gets a good chunk of those kids right back on track.”

New contracts

After executive session Monday the school board approved three-year contracts for Lewis, Zick and Athletic Director Rich Harvey

Personnel changes

The board approved the retirement of Andrea O’Reilly as counseling center receptionist, the resignations of Lindsay Suess (softball head coach) and Scott Campbell (science teacher) and the hirings of Hannah Busching (international club advisor), Victoria Evangelista (math teacher), Jacob Diestelkamp (special education teacher) and Alex Popidinski (science teacher). 

Lunch prices

The board unanimously approved menu pricing for lunches with Arbor Management for the 2021-2022 school year. It did not include price increases. 

“There will be no menu or price changes,” Harper said. “We want to get back to normal service in the commons and serve lunch every day with no price changes. We affirm that every year.”

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