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Sandwich District 430 Board of Education approves reopening plan

Sandwich School District 430 office entrance sign at Lynn G. Haskin School in Sandwich.
Sandwich School District 430 office entrance sign at Lynn G. Haskin School in Sandwich.

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SANDWICH – Sandwich School District 430 students officially will attend school in person and remotely to start the upcoming school year amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, according to district officials.

District Superintendent Rick Schmitt wrote in a Wednesday, July 22 email the reopening plan was presented to the district's Board of Education during the school board's meeting on Tuesday, July 21, and the board voted, 7-0, to approve the plan as presented. All board members were in attendance, according to Schmitt.

"Realizing the plan is a living document and fluid, all plans outlined are subject to change upon further guidance from local, state or federal agencies," Schmitt wrote.

Schmitt did not provide additional comment via phone call to Record Newspapers. School board members did not immediately return a request for comment on Wednesday.

According to the plan, students will be divided alphabetically into groups, with one group attending school in-person Mondays and Wednesdays, the second group attending school Tuesdays and Thursdays. Fridays will be reserved for remote learning across the district.

Indian Valley Vocational Center students will attend their program in person during their assigned in-person days, according to the plan.

The district would shift to full remote learning should Illinois state officials move the region back to Phase 3 of the state's Restore Illinois plan.

Face coverings will be required for all students, staff and visitors, per the plan. Largely, lockers will not be used in hallways or for physical education class but backpacks will be allowed. Playground equipment also will not be used during recess.

Physical education instruction will take place outside as much as possible and students will not be required to change clothes, according to the plan. Music, band and choir class expectations are being formalized with district administration and instructors.

If a student or employee tests positive for COVID-19, they will be out of school for at least 14 days and can return when they have a doctor’s note sent to the school, per the plan. Students or staff that were in close contact of someone that tested positive for the virus – meaning with or without a mask, within six feet and for more than 15 minutes – must self-quarantine based on contact tracing and IDPH guidelines.

School dismissals and time durations of the dismissals, along with even cancellations, will be handled on a case-by-case basis and with recommendations made by the DeKalb County Health Department, according to the plan.

After learning about a COVID-19 case associated with someone who has been in a school, district officials will immediately notify the DeKalb County Health Department. From there, local health officials will help administrators figure out a course of action for the school and programs.

District Curriculum Director Wally Marquardt had said attendance groups also will take into account multiple students who live in the same household and may have different last names, allowing them to attend school on the same schedule.

"Because of the sheer numbers and social distancing requirements, we cannot have everybody come back to school all at once," Marquardt had said. "You have to split that group up."

Marquardt had said the district's plan discourages the use of lockers because of the inability to socially distance. He had said students will be graded on assignments, as the policy restricting academic performance from harming students' grades during the spring 2020 shutdown has ended.

"We're just doing our best to prepare along with every other school in the state and country, really, to be able to respond to whatever we're asked to respond to," Marquardt had said.

Marquardt said on Wednesday he did not attend the school board meeting. He was not available for additional comment as requested by Record Newspapers on Wednesday.

• Record Newspapers news reporter Shea Lazansky contributed to this report.

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