The Examiner U-46 News Feed
District U-46, like most on hold to coronavirus
By Seth Hancock
From graduation ceremonies to testing, there are a lot of changes and unknowns across the state and in School District U-46 as the Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s shelter in place orders remain in effect over COVID-19.
Currently, the order is in place until April 7 meaning schools are tentatively set to open on Wednesday, April 8, but Pritzker has said “nothing is set in stone.”
For U-46, last week was spring break while students will be starting a larger scale version of distance, or online, learning this week.
“I hope that you are finding some moments of peace and happiness amid this historic time in our lives,” wrote U-46 Superintendent Tony Sanders in one of several messages last week. He later added: “Please practice strict social distancing and hand washing guidelines. Stay home when sick, and assume everyone you contact has COVID-19.”
For seniors hoping to don their caps and gowns at graduation or attend proms, there remains some uncertainty according to Sanders in a March 23 statement.
“No decisions have been made yet on cancelling any of those activities or planning alternative events,” Sanders wrote. “We will keep all high school families updated on any new developments and plans as well as information on all the timeline or decisions regarding earning various credentials, certification and potential college credit through the College Board Advanced Placement (AP) exams. Our decisions will be based on guidance provided by Governor Pritzker and the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE).”
The state has cancelled all required state testing, like the Illinois Assessment of Readiness and the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT). Sanders stated on March 25 that the state sought a waiver from the requirement and the federal government gave an initial approval, and on March 27 the ISBE announced that Pritzker signed an executive order to officially suspend the tests.
The SAT, taken by juniors, is a college entrance exam, and Sanders wrote: “In collaboration with the Illinois State Board of Education and The College Board, we are examining how we might provide the SAT to all juniors when they are seniors next year.”
Lela Majstorovic, assistant superintendent for secondary schools, announced on March 25 that the College Board is offering support and resources regarding AP exams at collegeboard.org. Online exams are expected to be offered and students who had registered for an AP exam can cancel with no cost, and Majstorovic stated an update on AP exams will be released on Friday, April 3 by the College Board.
The district’s new after-school program to be offered through Right at School starting in the 2020-2021 school year had planned to hold a parent forum before the shutdown and will now host virtual meetings in April. The district stated parents can call 1-855-287-2466 to learn more about the program.
Sanders noted that under the district’s safety and emergency operations plans, U-46 facilities could be used by state and local agencies in an emergency.
“This is not a new plan of action but something we have developed over time in collaboration with county health departments,” Sanders wrote. “We hope that it does not come to that but we will be here to support our community needs, however possible.”
U-46 continued providing taxpayer funded prepackaged meals (breakfasts, lunches, dinners, snacks) last week and has dates scheduled to continue doing so through at least Thursday, April 9.
Sanders announced that 39,000 meals were handed out on March 23, 45,936 meals and 15,312 snacks on March 25 and 45,240 meals and 15,080 snacks on March 30.
“Our food and technology distribution are among the essential activities allowed under the Governor’s shelter-in-place order,” Sanders wrote. He added: “A reminder that while schools are closed, our U-46 Food and Nutrition Department is providing free meals to all children 18 and under packaged to take home. A breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack will be ready to take and go. No paperwork is required for meals - just visit one of 26 pick-up locations most convenient for your family.”
Sanders noted that “parents/guardians do not need to have their children with them” to pick up the meals.
Additionally, the district’s educational foundation has started a fundraiser online according to Sanders who added: “The Foundation will add care kits filled with soap, shampoo, toothpaste, laundry and dish detergent, and other household products, to the District’s meal distribution sites in an effort to keep households running during this pandemic.”