MENDOTA – Mendota High School students will continue with in-person classes for the second semester. Board members unanimously approved the plan during their Nov. 16 board of education meeting.
Superintendent Jeff Prusator acknowledged that the past two to three weeks have been difficult due to absences but overall, the first semester has gone well. “We feel good up to this point with how we are doing,” he said. “We just have to take each day as it comes.”
Statistically, Prusator said 87 of MHS’s 423 in-person students were absent on Nov. 16, but not all of those students are sick or showing symptoms. Eleven of the 31 students who are quarantined are not sick but they are from the same household as a student who is sick, and 14 of the 33 students absent because of symptoms do not have symptoms themselves but are from a household with someone showing symptoms, which requires staying home 10 days or getting a negative COVID test.
Meanwhile, there are only two staff members currently quarantined so staffing has not become an issue. Prusator said there has been no spread of the virus at school. Contact tracing has shown that students generally have gotten it at work or from family members. “We’re hanging in but it’s been rough,” he added.
Although second semester will continue the same for in-person students, remote learning has been a challenge and some changes are planned for those students. Principal Denise Aughenbaugh said more emphasis will be placed on participation and bi-weekly progress reports will be sent to parents.
Despite the high school trying to make attendance calls and doing home visits, Aughenbaugh said remote learning is not a great success and she is worried about students having to make up credits. “The students who did well in school are doing well with remote and students who did poorly in school are doing poorly, so that’s the same,” she said. “I’m worried about students who were in the middle. Some kids need to be in school. They need that direct engagement and encouragement from teachers. Not everyone can handle remote learning.”
Prusator pointed out that the positivity rate at MHS is only 1 percent. “If the state was at that level, everything would be open. If it increases in our building, we will have to re-examine our plan,” he said.
2020 Mendota School Report Card
Although many reporting requirements for the 2019-20 Illinois Report Card were waived due to the COVID-19 pandemic, graduation rates were still provided. The four-year graduation rate at MHS was 89.6 percent, which is above the state average of 88 percent. Aughenbaugh said the state allowed some graduation requirement adjustments during the school closure, and it was rewarding to see that MHS could graduate more students on time.
The five-year graduation rate at MHS was 89.2 percent, also above the state average of 88.4 percent.
The 61st Annual Academic Honors Breakfast, scheduled for March 18, could not be held due to statewide mandatory school closure. MHS had hoped to hold an in-person event at a later date but that has not been possible. In its place, socially-distanced presentations are being held this week to honor the Semester 1, 3, and 5 Honor Roll recipients. The awards presentations will be videoed for parents and families to view.
“We are very proud of our students’ achievements, and we hope the Virtual 61st Annual Academic Honors Presentation will be shared with family and friends,” Aughenbaugh said.
Parent-Student Teacher Conferences
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, virtual parent-teacher student conferences will be held this year on Nov. 23-24. Thanksgiving break will be Nov. 25-27.
Parents will sign up for individual conferences in 10 minute increments on a first-come, first-served basis. Parents may also request a phone conference call.
Aughenbaugh thanked the Mendota FFA for preparing and serving FFA pork chop burgers for the entire school on Nov. 10. “What a great morale booster and service to our school,” she said. “Thank you Mr. Meyer and all of the FFA members.”
Aughenbaugh also thanked Mr. Artman and Mrs. Baker for preparing a Veterans Day video to share with the student body.
The board approved Tyler Schmitt as the boys’ bowling coach and Kassidi Guerrero as the girls’ bowling coach. Aughenbaugh noted that last spring the Athletic Committee requested that the bowling coach position and stipend be split into two. She also noted that the bowling alleys have various restriction numbers on participation, so the coaches and Mr. Hanson will determine the safest way for students to compete.
The next regular board of education meeting will be held at the high school on Monday, Dec. 21 at 6 p.m.