Elementary school board: $81,415 in grant money received

District still waiting for fall COVID-19 guidance


ROCHELLE — Rochelle Elementary District 231 Superintendent Jason Harper said at Tuesday’s school board meeting that the district has received $81,415 in grant money from the Illinois Art Council Agency.  

The grant will span over two years and will be dedicated towards the district’s dual language programming. Last year, the district got a similar grant for just over $30,000. The money will manifest itself in instructional and curricular purchases for kids to have in the classrooms, 

“We're excited about that,” Harper said, “These are competitive grants. Things like that to support what we're doing in the classroom are great. And then of course our professional development. As we scale up and out on this dual language program we'll have more people who will need access to quality professional development. Those are the two big ways we'll use this.”

COVID-19 guidance

Harper told the board he’s still waiting to hear COVID-19-related guidance from the state on what school will look like in the fall. Changes are likely after the state moves to phase 5 of reopening. 

Harper said the state superintendent of schools has been given the power to give guidance on what a remote learner is and while not in effect yet, it will likely consist of a remote learner being a student in an age bracket without an approved vaccine (11-under) that’s also placed in quarantine by the local health department. 

“For example, a 10-year-old who was not placed in quarantine must be an in-person learner,” Harper said. “We’ll see what they say about masks and social distancing guidelines as well.” 

Harper said the district will likely have eight weeks to plan following guidance. He said the district will meet with administration, other districts and legal counsel during planning. Whenever guidance comes in, it will be Harper’s recommendation to follow a “restrictive pathway” when it comes to remote learning after seeing some success and “many, many” challenges during pandemic months. 

“We want our kids back,” Harper said. “Our young learners, we feel like they need to be back with us. We need to have structured and unstructured elements. Social and emotional services that we feel like we can provide. Several warm, quality meals a day and all of those things that we've talked about so many times in the past months. That will be the path we intend to follow with the obvious statement that we don't know what guidance we will get.”

White sworn in

New board member Stephanie White was sworn in at the meeting after being appointed at last month’s meeting to fulfill an open four-year position.