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
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.
Lunch periods would be eliminated, but students could purchase pre-packaged snacks from Country House (McAuley’s food service provider) in the morning before school to eat during 3rd/7th. Country House may also sell boxed/packaged lunches at 1:00 for dismissal.
To socially distance restrooms, the school will close every other bathroom stall and sink, which still allows for seven bathroom stalls to be open as well as four sinks in all five main restrooms. Posted signs will encourage hand hygiene procedures in the restrooms as well as throughout the school building.
Per ISBE guidance, lockers will not be assigned to any students for the first quarter and likely the first semester. Students will travel to all classes with a backpack carrying all items with them. In addition to their academic items, students may carry translucent water bottles filled with water, a light snack, hand sanitizer, or wipes.
All students must wear a facemask that covers both their mouths and their noses at all times while inside of the building. McAuley-designated face masks will be available for purchase to wear during school hours, or students may bring and wear their own. Individual masks should be free of any writing.
Students must be physically present either in a classroom or online via Google Meets when the teacher takes attendance. With GoogleMeets, students can both see and hear the teacher say their name, in which they indicate their presence by saying, “present”. Students who are not in the physical classroom or do not indicate their presence via GoogleMeets will be marked absent.
To encourage students to stay home when ill, the school will not include this year in the four-year perfect attendance award.
Educational researchers note the importance of planning for optimal student engagement. With a lengthy 70-minute block class, teachers will be further trained to design instruction to maximize student engagement. Efforts may include planning instructional shifts every 15-20 minutes to break up classroom activities.
All students with a study period will be designated a specific location to ensure social distancing may be maintained. For juniors and seniors, as in previous years, if a study period occurs at the first or last period of the day, the student may dismiss the building after their last academic class. Underclasswomen must report to their designated study period regardless of when the period is scheduled.
All external field trips have been canceled for the first semester.
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.
No, the administration will continually monitor the guidance from public health authorities as well as the Illinois State Board of Education. If the school can safely gather in larger groups again, the school would revert to our tradition nine-period day schedule at the end of a quarter or the end of a semester. As noted in the plan, with the transition to a nine-period day, some teaching assignments may change.
No, the administration will monitor the safe and effective implementation of all new school protocols through the week of Labor Day to determine if we may increase our school population to 2/3 capacity or 100% capacity.
While each day is different, homeroom is dedicated time for school announcements and opportunities to build student connectedness. These opportunities may be formal or informal activities or time for students to socialize with peers. In addition, it can be a time for a student to have a light snack if needed.
Since the school will be implementing block schedules with periods 1-4 meeting on the first day and 5-8 meeting the second day, all students will be able to attend all classes before switching to eLearning.
With nearly 900 students in the building plus over 100 staff members, we sought a creative solution to eliminate large crowd gatherings for lunch periods in which all students would have masks removed. With the significant efforts dedicated to social distancing in classrooms and hallways, we felt it was best to avoid large gatherings when masks were not worn. Please be assured the administration will continue monitoring all new protocol with the ability to quickly change this versatile plan.
Per the ISBE guidance, student lockers should not be assigned since it will create large clusters in the hallways. Instead, we plan for students to carry their belongings with them to classes. We will monitor this process and potentially make changes as the colder months approach.
GoogleMeets uses video and audio so teachers will take attendance at the start of each class period. If a student is not present through video and audio to indicate presence, she will be marked absent for that class period.
Any student identified to have been in close contact (within 1-5 feet) of a person who tested positive will be notified. The school nurse, in collaboration with the administration, will notify those individuals of the need to quarantine, which means the student may participate in eLearning during that time period.
The Illinois State Board of Education requires all occupants within a school building to have a mask covering mouths and noses. If a student does not feel comfortable wearing a mask, she should opt for full eLearning.
Yes, we strongly encourage students to bring a translucent water bottle filled with water each day for healthy hydration. Students may refill water bottles at the several filling stations located throughout the building.
Yes, we will dedicate space, currently set up in the auditorium, for students to complete eLearning work for this reason. More information will follow in early August regarding protocol for reserving such space.
Yes, if the IHSA approves fall sports, any athletes may utilize the on-campus work areas during their eLearning time. More information will follow in early August regarding protocol for reserving such space.
Before and after school hours will be determined and communicated in early August. Our goal is to accommodate our students as best as possible.
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.
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