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Back-to-School Update: June 30, 2020
Christine Conkling
Tuesday, June 30, 2020

June 30, 2020

Dear Riley Families,

I hope this finds you all well and enjoying some time with your families.  I wanted to reach out to you and update you on what is happening here at Riley as we prepare for the start of the new school year.  As I am sure you are aware, Governor Pritzker and the Illinois State Board of Education has released guidance on the return to school for the 2020-2021 school year.  This guidance strongly recommends that schools open with in-person instruction for the fall.  As a district, we have already been working to prepare for the different scenarios that we may be presented with as we return to school this coming year.  We have a team in place that is evaluating how a return to school in the fall will look here at Riley no matter what type of scenario we find ourselves in.  School districts were notified of the guidance from the State at the same time as the public.  We are now using that information to adjust our plans so as to address any new guidelines we have received.  This is no easy task, and we are working to have a plan in place later in July that can be shared with our families.  As a district we do feel it is possible to have our students back here in the classroom for instruction.  Classrooms will look very different, but based on the guidance, we have the capability. This could easily change if the guidance changes or we move back to Phase 3 as a State. 

In the coming weeks, we will be asking you to fill out some forms on line that will help us with our planning.  Transportation of students is going to determine quite a bit of what happens here.  Start and end times of the day may have to be adjusted if we don’t think we can transport students all at one time as we usually do.  The first survey we send out will come next week.  We will be asking if you would be willing to transport your child to and from school to help cut down the numbers of students on the buses.  I only put this out there now, so you have time to think about it before responding.  This would be a commitment, so I want you to have time to really think it through.  I understand that this is not a possibility for many families and appreciate any help in this area that is available.  There is a limit of 50 students per bus, so knowing who would transport their children will help us in our next phase of planning.    

Some of the guidance we have received has already changed since last week.  We appreciate your patience as we work to make plans that are feasible and realistic.  I feel this will continue to happen as the world situation changes and more information is learned.  I know many people have concerns about students having to wear masks here at school all day.  Unfortunately, that is the one thing that has not wavered in the guidelines.  Face coverings will be mandatory for all, students and staff, except in some very specific situations.  A clearer understanding of many of the other guidelines is still needed.  Interpretation can be a tricky thing, so we are looking to gain clearer guidance from the State. 

We are working with both districts, Marengo Community High School District 154 and Marengo-Union Elementary District 165, as we develop our plans for a return to school.  Each school district has its own specific needs, but we can work together to ensure the best possible scenario for all students. 

We are currently finalizing online registration materials.  We will ask parents to register on-line this year as we are still in the middle of a construction project here at Riley and it would be very difficult to hold on-site registration even without the extra complications of the current pandemic.  We hope to have this up and running in the next few weeks.  I will send out a School Messenger call when you can access those online materials. 

I know this is a lot to take in.  It is for us as well.  Again we appreciate your patience and understanding as we work through the many details that have to be considered in this situation. 

Sincerely,

Christine Conkling

Superintendent