MHS board approves building projects, discusses plans for returning to school


MENDOTA – Two large-scale projects totaling $1,242,048 were approved by the Mendota High School Board of Education during its June 15 meeting. Superintendent Jeff Prusator said after several meetings with the district’s performance contractor, ENGIE, details of the Phase 1 projects were determined and will include roof replacement and the school’s back parking lot.

Prusator also reported on the state’s “Return to Play” rules, which will allow small groups of students to return to school for limited athletic training starting on June 16. “It’s very minimal what they can do,” he said. “No equipment is used, it’s only for conditioning.”

Prusator noted that student interest is high with 80 students signing up to attend. The students will have a designated time slot for the training. Prior to each session, the coaches will take each student’s temperature, ask them some health questions, and fill out a log so everything is recorded. “But the coaches and the kids are excited to get back,” he added.

MHS students are scheduled to return to school on Aug. 14 and Prusator said he is optimistic that will happen.

The state’s “Return to Learn” guidelines will be finalized and in place when students come back. These currently include:

Health and Safety Protocols. MHS will proactively prepare staff and students to prevent the spread of COVID-19 or any other infectious disease. Teachers are trained on health and safety prior to resuming any in-person instruction. Symptoms of COVID-19 vary widely. Recognizable symptoms of COVID-19 include a new or worsening cough or shortness of breath or a least two of the following symptoms: fever of 100.4 F, chills, muscle aches, headaches, sore throat, loss of taste or smell, or diarrhea. Teachers will request specific symptoms reporting when absences are reported along with COVID-19 diagnoses and COVID-19 exposure.

In accordance with state and federal guidance, school community members who are sick should not return to school until they meet criteria to return. The school will consider a symptom checklist for students and staff to use to determine if they are well enough to attend that day. For students who were suspected of COVID-19 but not tested, the CDC and IDPH guidelines state that 72 hours must elapse from resolution of fever without fever-reducing medications and 10 days must have passed since symptoms first appeared. It is recommended that medically fragile and immunocompromised students consult their medical provider prior to attending school. Students or staff returning from COVID-19 related illness should check in with the building administrator following quarantine.

While at MHS, any individual who shows symptoms should be immediately separated from the rest of the population. Individuals who are sick will be sent home. If emergency services are necessary, 911 will be called. While interacting with students who may be sick, CDC guidance on standard and transmission-based precautions will be used.

Hand Hygiene. Frequent and proper handwashing is encouraged. MHS will have supplies, such as soap and paper towels, for students. If students prefer to carry their own hand sanitizer and tissue, that is encouraged to guarantee personal use. Hands should be washed often with soap and water for 20 seconds. It is recommended that hand hygiene is performed upon arrival to and departure from school; after blowing one’s nose, coughing, or sneezing; following restroom use. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers will be made available on MHS property and properly stored.

Face Coverings. MHS will follow the guidance of the CDC and IDPH on the usage of face coverings for staff, students, and visitors. There is significant evidence that face coverings provide protection and decrease the spread of COVID-19. Ensure that the face coverings fully cover the mouth and nose, and that the covering fits snugly against the sides of the face with no gaps. Reusable face coverings should be machine washed or washed by hand and allowed to dry completely after each use. MHS currently cannot issue disposable face coverings to students who need one. All students are expected to arrive with a face mask.

Social Distancing. MHS will follow procedures to ensure 6-feet physical distance from other persons at all times is followed. The expectation pertains to students and staff members in all areas and settings to the greatest extent possible. Students and staff may break social distance if face coverings and other appropriate PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) is utilized; however, prolonged contact should be minimized.

Symptom Screening. MHS will conduct temperature and symptom screenings for all staff, students, and visitors daily. Individuals who have a temperature greater than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or symptoms of COVID-19 may not remain in the building.

Schoolwide Cleaning and Disinfection to prevent the Spread of Infection. MHS will follow sanitation procedures per recommendations of the CDC, IDPH, and local health department. More frequent cleaning and disinfecting is necessary to reduce exposure.

Water Fountains. The use of reusable water bottles is promoted. Water fountains will only allow for bottles to be filled.

Should remote learning become necessary, Prusator said part of the $102,000 the district received from the CARES Act was used for professional development and other upgrades so the high school is much better prepared for distance learning. “It will be a much better experience for students and teachers,” he said.

Graduation for the Class of 2020, which includes 108 students, is still scheduled for Saturday, July 18 with the time and specifics of the ceremony yet to be determined. Prusator said they expect to have more information from the state by the end of June so plans can be made. “We want to have every graduate in the gym and as many guests as are allowed at that time,” he said. “If that is not possible, we have several different plans for how to handle the ceremony.”

PRINCIPAL’S REPORT

Principal Denise Aughenbaugh reported that summer school online credit retrieval and driver’s education classes finished on June 15. Behind-the-wheel driver’s education is now allowed with protocols issued by the state. These guidelines were sent to parents so they could decide whether to have their students participate at this time.

Parents are strongly encouraged to watch for a school mailing about registration that will be sent at the end of this week. Aughenbaugh said it is very helpful if parents and students complete registration forms and free and reduced lunch forms, if needed. All necessary information and forms will be posted for download at www.mendotahs.org. This year, all parents and students must return a written signature page that verifies that they have access to the online handbooks by Aug. 3.

PERSONNEL

The board approved Aughenbaugh as superintendent beginning on July 1, 2023. They also approved Kristi Barajas as a special education teacher.

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