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Editor's Note: This story has been updated to clarify the involvement of community organizations in KSD 111's back-to-school plan.

KANKAKEE — The Kankakee School Board approved a final back-to-school plan and previewed school buildings’ individual approaches for resuming instruction during a Monday meeting.

District 111 first revealed details in May of a plan in the works to give students options for returning to school during Phase 4 of Restore Illinois, which began June 26.

“We are in a lose-lose situation,” Superintendent Genevra Walters said. “There’s not going to be a perfect plan. We are going to have to be flexible.”

Most students will follow a blended schedule and receive in-person learning in shifts (two- or three-hour blocks of instruction or activities, intervention and sports), but students also have options to engage in a fully remote or fully in-person schedule.

Families with work scheduling conflicts that need their children to be at school full-time can choose the fully remote option, but those students would not be with a licensed teacher all day, Walters said. 

Walters said partnerships with community organizations like the YMCA and Garden of Prayer Youth Center would be used to provide a full-time daily schedule for those students. Paraprofessionals will also provide tutoring or help with homework during times when those students are not with teachers, she said.

Ongoing district partnerships with community organizations like the city, the library, the park district and United Way will also be utilized moving forward, according to the plan.

The city provides a resource officer to help check in on students and the library provides computer resources for students, while the park district provides gathering spaces and natural places for lessons and exploration in small groups, according to the plan.

Medically fragile students and other students with Individualized Education Programs will have personalized plans around resuming learning determined at a meeting with their parents.

The district’s 2020-21 calendar sets the first day of school as Aug. 19, when students will be expected to check-in for Learning Anywhere, Anytime.

The first week of school will consist of parent-teacher meetings in which parents will receive one-to-one technology for their children and review class websites and instructional goals. This week is being called Link-Up. Instruction is set to begin Aug. 24.

On Sept. 7, flexible schedules for remote and blended learning are set to begin, and a permanent transportation schedule will be in place.

A re-evaluation of the district’s learning plan and possible implementation of a permanent schedule for the second quarter is set for the Sept. 28 school board meeting.

“We are concerned about going into a permanent schedule, because what happens when there is a COVID-19 [outbreak]; who does that effect?” Walters said. “We are going to monitor the situation with the virus, then hopefully by second quarter, we’ll be able to go into a permanent schedule.”

The resolution approved Monday authorizes the superintendent to modify the plan to adhere to new guidance from state officials or agencies, such as the governor, the Illinois State Board of Education or the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Buildings will be open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. to accommodate shifts of small group instruction, as well as students who need WiFi access.

As for meals, all schools will serve breakfast and lunch, and the junior high and high school will serve dinner as well. The district is also purchasing a food truck for meal distribution on days when students do not have in-person learning opportunities.

Administrative teams will be finalizing tactical plans for each school building following Monday’s board meeting, Walters said. Overall tactical plans are based on the pre-kindergarten through third grade, fourth through sixth grade, junior high and high school levels.

Reporter

Stephanie Markham joined the Daily Journal in February 2020 as the education reporter. She focuses on school boards as well as happenings and trends in local schools.

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