Fall Reopening Plan
It is important to note that in late June the Illinois State Board of Education released over sixty pages of guidance and requirements to safely reopen schools this fall. The most important points include:
- Prohibit more than 50 individuals gathering in limited space
- Require proper use of face masks in the building
- Accommodate social distancing as much as possible
- Require the schools conduct symptom and temperature screenings or ask all individuals to self-certify that they are free of symptoms upon entry to the building
- Increase schoolwide cleaning and disinfection protocol
As we constructed the plan, we sought to follow ISBE’s guidance as well as meet the following goals:
- Limit the daily interactions between persons (i.e. passing periods and classes)
- Limit or eliminate the need to gather in groups of fifty given the need to remove masks to eat (i.e. lunch periods)
- Allow families/students who have concerns about returning to choose eLearning for the entire quarter (or longer if needed)
- Socially distance the classroom as much as possible
- Require masks, but utilize a schedule to limit the amount of time students will be in the building wearing masks and limit screen time for eLearners.
In addition, in designing the reopening plan, we relied heavily on feedback from parents as well as faculty members. Both parents and faculty members indicated concern about opening with 100% capacity, which would include nearly 900 students and over 100 faculty and staff members. In fact, with 88% of families responding to the survey, only 55.8% of parents indicated they felt comfortable with 100% of students returning together; whereas, 81.2% expressed com- fortability returning if the capacity was initially capped at 50%.
Based on that feedback as well as ISBE’s social distancing guidance, the current plan accommodates 50% of students returning to the building to ensure the health and safety of all students and faculty/staff members while we acclimate to new processes and protocols. Please note two secondary plans exist for lessened social distancing options to increase in-person education: increasing the capacity to 66% (2/3) in the building or increasing capacity to 100% returning in the building (given the block schedule and elimination of lunch periods). The school administration will monitor the implementation of our new protocol through the week of Labor Day to determine if we may increase our school population to 2/3 capacity or 100% capacity.
We anticipate and understand questions about the plan will arise; I encourage you to check the FAQs page at the end of this document. If your question is not answered, please contact your daughter’s level dean or me so we may clarify any questions.
As we move forward with the most dynamic return to school in our history, on behalf of our entire faculty and staff, we wish to convey our genuine gratitude to our students and families for your continued support and belief in the lifetime advantage of a Mother McAuley education. We look forward to welcoming our Mighty Macs in just a few weeks!
The school will institute a block schedule with four seventy-minute classes occurring each day with half of the population returning each day (see below).
|3 + Homeroom||10:25||11:45||80 min|
|7+ Homeroom||10:25||11:45||80 min|
The school population will be separated in half by alphabetical listing to ensure social distancing in all classrooms. 50% attends school in person while the other 50% learns from home (see below for a detailed explanation of eLearning). The schedule would include:
By eliminating lunch periods, which requires large group gatherings of fifty students, we will limit not only exposure to large group gatherings of fifty students, but also in confined spaces with masks removed to eat.
In addition, each day, this block schedule decreases the number of passing periods, limits the number of student interactions each day to four classes with peers, and limits the amount of screen time required of eLearners at home. Finally, the limited interactions allows the school to conduct contact tracing should a student or staff member test positive for COVID-19. By scheduling class time in 70-minute blocks, the school continues to provide the instructional time necessary for each academic discipline.
To accommodate additional faculty training, the first week of school schedule has been modified.
- August 17 and 18: Faculty Professional Development
- August 19: Freshman Orientation (more details to follow regarding a special schedule)
- August 20: Red students return for orientation
- August 21: Gold students return for orientation
- August 24: Block scheduling begins with Red reporting to school both August 24 and 25
All students/families may choose full eLearning for the entire first quarter (through October 19), as each class- room will be equipped with livestreaming technology, accessible through each course section’s Google Classroom link. Students who are eLearning are expected to be present virtually for the entirety of all class periods. In a later communication, parents will be informed of the next steps to indicate this full eLearning choice, which will be requested by August 3, 2020. Prior to the first day of school, all students will receive the GoogleClassroom invitation via their school-authorized Gmail accounts for each course to ensure their ability to immediately eLearn from home. Once enrolled in Google Classroom, each day by 7:55 a.m., students simply click on the period’s GoogleMeet link to participate in the live class from home. A how-to video will be sent to all students prior to the first day of school.
- Decreases amount of daily interactions by more than half each day given the 1-4 periods on one day and the 5-8 periods on the next day with only four passing periods each day
- Reduces the length of the school day to 1:00 p.m. by eliminating lunch periods, thereby decreasing the amount of time needing to wear a mask as well as limiting the amount of screen time needed at home by eLearners
- Eliminates large group gatherings of fifty by removing lunch periods
- Eliminates the lunch time in which students must remove masks to eat
- Social distancing in classes and hallways would be feasible given the 50% population returning
New School Protocol and Accommodations
Daily Medical Screenings
All students must enter through two designated school entrances, with freshmen and sophomores entering through Circle Drive and juniors and seniors entering through the Main Gym entrance. At each entrance, school staff will utilize contactless infrared thermometers to conduct temperature checks for all students entering the building as well as to confirm each student has not experienced any listed COVID-19 symptoms. If a student’s temperature exceeds 100.4 degrees, a parent will be contacted for the student to be sent home. *We strongly encourage students check temperatures at home to avoid coming to school only to be sent home in the case of an identified fever.
Socially Distant Classrooms
All classrooms will be reconfigured to spread desks as far apart as possible. With only 50% of students physically present each day, all classrooms will be socially distanced by six or more feet.
Protocol for COVID-19 Symptoms or Positive Tests
- If a student presents COVID-19-like symptoms during the school day, a second separate, quarantined health office will be utilized to treat the student as well as serve as a waiting area until a parent or designated guardian is able to pick up the student. The second separate, quarantined health office will be staffed by the nurse while a second staff member (Dean of Student Support) will temporarily oversee the main health office. This student will exit the building at the nearest exit, which is located approximately ten feet from the office door.
- If a student or staff member tests positive for COVID-19, the school nurse and Dean of Student Support will conduct contact tracing to inform other students’ parents if close interaction occurred. ISBE describes this interaction closer than social distancing so between one and five feet. Seating charts will be created and followed in each classroom to aid in the contact tracing efforts.
- Should the school see an upward trend of positive cases, the administration will remain in close and ongoing communication with public health authorities to determine the potential need to temporarily close the building and transition to eLearning.
The school purchased an electrostatic sprayer, the machine used by deep-cleaning companies, so all utilized spaces will be deep cleaned each night. High traffic areas (i.e. bathroom counters, bathroom sinks, stairway handrails) will be san- itized multiple times throughout the day. In addition, several hand sanitation stations will be deployed throughout the building to encourage hand washing.
Before and After School Hours
The school will strongly encourage all students with transportation to leave the school building immediately after school. Students awaiting transportation may utilize the student lounge area; however, the school is researching the best way to limit the number of students and to ensure all responsibilities for before and after school hours reside with the student and parents (other than security, which will be provided by the school). Specific before and after school hours will be determined and communicated in early August.
Mental Health Services
The school recognizes and continues to prioritize students’ mental health needs. Students have immediate access to mental health services through their assigned counselors at any time while in the building. For any eLearners at home, students will be encouraged to request a GoogleMeets appointment with their counselor to be arranged within 24-48 hours of the request. More details will be forthcoming.
School Help Centers
The school typically offers multiple help centers (i.e. LRC, math center, science center, etc.). All centers will be accessible online as well as in-person at different times each day. Centers will be socially distanced and operating at 50% capacity. All help centers will also offer designated virtual accessibility options to help eLearners at home.
Student Dress Code
Students will wear their authorized school uniforms unless the outdoor temperature is expected to reach 80 degrees. If exceeding the determined temperature, the administration will authorize the students to dress down. To maintain a sense of classroom experience, eLearners must also be in full uniform for the school day.
Given the school’s plan for in-person and synchronous learning, all grading requirements an expectations remain in place for the 2020-2021 school year. Teachers will review each course’s grading structure and expectations with students at the beginning of the school year. Parents will also receive this information through the virtual Parent Night held on Thursday, August 27.
- Is McAuley following this block schedule with dismissal at 1:00 p.m. for the entire 2020-2021 school year?
- Is McAuley operating at 50% capacity for the entire 2020-2021 school year?
- Does my daughter have to wear a mask in the building at all times?
- What if I do not feel comfortable with my daughter returning to school given our family concerns?
- What if my daughter chose an after-school course like A Cappella, Mac Melody, or Symphony Ensemble?
- The third teaching period of each day lists a ten-minute homeroom. What occurs during homeroom?
- Why do the red/gold groups go to school two straight days instead of alternate every other?
- Some schools are following their exact same school schedules with little change. Why is McAuley implementing a block schedule?
- Will the Kitty Mac Café be open before and after school for purchasing snacks, drinks, or lunches?
- Why is McAuley not assigning lockers for students?
- Why do eLearners have to wear uniforms at home?
- What if I am at home eLearning and I have a study hall scheduled?
- How will a teacher know I am present and attending class while eLearning?
- If a student or staff member tests positive for COVID-19, will I be informed?
- What if my daughter does not feel comfortable wearing a mask?
- Can my daughter reach out to a teacher to arrange help before or after school?
- Can I carry a water bottle throughout the day?
- If my daughter drives one or several other students to school, can she complete her eLearning at school?
- During eLearning days, what if our family does not have access to the internet or a strong working space for our daughter?
- If fall sports are in session and my daughter is on a team and eLearning, can she also use this space for eLearning since we do not have access to transportation prior to practice?
- What are the before and after school hours given this new schedule?
Important Note: If the school is able to return to normal with 100% of students, the school will align any major schedule change to the end of a quarter or end of a semester to allow the school to re-employ a nine-period day. By rescheduling students with a lunch period, all student schedules will change along with some teacher assignments. However, since all teachers follow the same curricula, there should be little to no academic disruption with such a schedule change.