A different kind of orientation

Rochelle Township High School principal details modifications to board

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ROCHELLE – During the monthly high school board meeting, Rochelle Township High School Principal Chris Lewis updated the board on freshman orientation and students returning to classes.
Lewis began by informing the board on how freshman orientation days were modified in order to meet all CDC requirements. The school has approximately 200 new freshmen beginning school this year and to accommodate the 170 that attended orientation, the school split the students into groups of approximately 40 and conducted the orientations in five, two-hour sessions.
“We usually have many events leading up to the beginning of the school year that we just weren’t able to do this year,” Lewis said. “So, we thought of a way to still get the freshman into the building while following all CDC and social distancing guidelines and using our new temperature systems.”
During orientation, all freshmen received their Google Chromebooks, set up their Skyward accounts and Google passwords and received a building tour and update on the new RTHS policies. Lewis also clarified to the board that students will be attending classes all five days a week, even though they only attend in person two or three days.
Some of the community was under the impression when students were not attending in person, they would not be attending classes or completing work. Lewis clarified that on the days students do not attend in person, they will be required to complete E-learning assignments.

Students will also be required to complete E-learning assignments when they return home from being dismissed at 12:30 p.m. Lewis explained that students usually take six classes at once, so they can expect to attend four classes in person and the other two virtually.  
“The hybrid approach that we are taking means that kids will do some things in person and some things at home,” Lewis said. “Attendance will be taken daily in Skyward learning, so in a full school week, kids will see five attendance days. Students will be expected to do work every day.”  
One concern brought up by the board was how students will get extra help if grades begin to slip or they feel they need more one-on-one practice. Beginning next week, the building will be open from 1 to 3 p.m. for either in person or virtual help with teachers. Anybody entering the building will once again go through the screening process.
Freshmen and sophomores returned to classes on Monday and Lewis told board members that it was a very good first day, nobody had a temperature or any symptoms of COVID-19 and the students did a good job social distancing in the hallways.
“Overall, I think today was a great first day,” Lewis said. “I feel good where we are at, if classes get too big, we have lots of other spaces in the building that can meet social distancing requirements. If we get to the that point, there is a lot of space in this building that we can move too.”
Budget
Following the principal’s report, board members approved a motion to adopt the new updates to the student handbook that were presented at July’s meeting. Board members also passed a motion to set the date and time for an upcoming budget workshop which will take place on Monday, Sept. 14 at 5:30 p.m.
“The entire handbook is pretty much the same, except for a few updates that are directly tied to COVID-19,” Superintendent Jason Harper said. “We need to set aside the time to talk about the budget. With everything going on this year, the budget is currently unknown.”