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Dist. U-46 takes further pandemic-related actions


By Seth Hancock
  The Board of Education in School District U-46 unanimously approved of a resolution to suspend policies over the COVID-19 pandemic at its meeting on Monday, April 6 which was held electronically due to the virus.
  The vote was 6-0, board member Veronica Noland was absent.
  The World Health Organization declared a pandemic over COVID-19 on March 11 while a large national shutdown has taken place including Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker shutting down a majority of public and private activity.
  The U-46 resolution stated that “Illinois Governor Pritzker declared all counties in Illinois as disaster areas” on March 9 and “the U.S. President (Donald Trump) declared a national state of emergency” on March 13. Pritzker initially ordered a shutdown on March 13 until March 30, but it was extended first to April 7 and now until the end of April.
  The board’s policies under Section 2.244 allow for a suspension of policies with “a majority vote of members present at any meeting.”
  The resolution was amended at the meeting with a recommended end date of June 30 to the action being added along with an amendment to a section giving Superintendent Tony Sanders additional purchasing powers during the shutdown.
  Section 5 states that Sanders, “after notifying the Board President (Sue Kerr),” can “make all necessary emergency purchases… to ensure continuity of goods and services required for the provision of all relevant educational services throughout the duration of school closures related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Any purchases by the Superintendent made via this resolution which require Board approval shall be ratified by the Board of Education at a later time.”
  The final line of “at a later time” was amended to “as soon as is practicable.”
  Section 1 states: “The Board suspends board policies, in whole or in part, if such suspension is necessary to implement Executive Orders of the Governor and/or written guidance from ISBE (Illinois State Board of Education) relating to COVID-19, including any subsequent orders by the Governor to close schools.”
  Sanders will be able to make “emergency closures” and “to close any school building or District facility” and “to direct staff assignments during District closures, including but not limited to essential employees who must physically report to work.” He also can control access to U-46 facilities.
  The resolution also allows the board to continue holding electronic meetings as well as the ability to change “meeting dates, times, and locations.”
  Later in the week, Sanders announced a second round of taxpayer funded technology handouts and an expected third round including giving iPads to pre-kindergarten students and Chromebooks for K-12 students.
  “For the Chromebook distribution, we are prioritizing fifth through twelfth graders who do not currently have a device, as well as households with the largest gaps between the number of students and number of devices,” Sanders wrote in a Thursday, April 9 statement. “If you are eligible to pick up a device(s) next week, you will receive a separate communication from your school with more details.”
  Sanders also announced that U-46 has handed out 418,269 taxpayer funded meals (breakfasts, lunches, dinners) and 139,423 since the shutdown.
  The district also announced an at-home Seal of Biliteracy test with “Parent-as-Proctor.” The College Board has announced that Advanced Placement exams will start on May 11 with makeup dates starting on June 1.

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