MHS approves use of E-Learning days

Bonnie Morris
Posted 6/23/21

MENDOTA – The use of E-Learning days will continue at Mendota High School following approval by the District 280 Board of Education.

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MHS approves use of E-Learning days


MENDOTA – The use of E-Learning days will continue at Mendota High School following approval by the District 280 Board of Education. During a public hearing, which preceded the June 21 board meeting, Superintendent Jeff Prusator explained that E-Learning days were allowed by the state prior to the pandemic. They may be used in place of snow/emergency days when schools are closed and are different than Remote Learning.

Prusator explained that Remote Learning days were allowed in Illinois during the pandemic when schools were closed for extended periods, but that rule has now expired. Although at first he did not believe remote learning was a good idea, Prusator said he has changed his mind. “We learned that remote learning can be very effective when school has to be closed for some reason,” he said. “I was not a fan at first because I thought students had to be in a classroom and interact with their teachers. But since then, we have seen that E-Learning days can be effective for snow/emergency days when school cannot be in session for some reason.”

The state allows schools to use up to five E-Learning days during a school year, but they can only be used when school cannot be open due to weather or emergencies, not just because a school decides to have one. “I think this would be a beneficial option for us to use rather than having to make up those days at the end of the school year,” Prusator said. “By May, students are ready for the end of the year and it is harder to have them get anything out of extra days at that time.”

The E-Learning days do not have to be used, Prusator added, but they will be an option if needed.


Principal Denise Aughenbaugh reported on this year’s summer school and thanked Assistant Principal Joe Masini for the time and effort he took to organize the program.

Summer school credit retrieval is continuing through July 2 with 43 students taking math and science and 30 students taking English.

A total of 71 students are enrolled in driver’s education with 23 in behind-the-wheel training and 48 students taking classroom instruction, who still need behind-the-wheel. Aughenbaugh noted that it will take quite a bit of time to catch up on behind-the-wheel training because of the time lost during the pandemic.

In addition, the dual credit IVCC speech courses have 58 students registered.

Registration & Orientation

Aughenbaugh strongly encouraged parents to watch for a school mailing that will be sent home in July regarding registration. A combination of online and in-person registration will be held this summer. She noted that it is very helpful for parents and students to complete registration forms and free and reduced lunch forms, if needed. All necessary information and forms will be posted for download at This year, all parents and students are required to return a signature page that verifies they have access to the online handbooks.

Detailed information will also be sent home regarding an incoming freshman and new student orientation event taking place on Aug. 10. Parents are encouraged to start making medical appointments for 9th grade physicals, sports physicals and/or mandated vaccinations. Seniors need the MCV4 booster; freshmen need the Measles, Mumps, and Rubella series. Aughenbaugh also encourages incoming freshman parents to make dental appointments and take care of the mandated 9th grade dental form.


Several personnel recommendations were presented by Aughenbaugh and approved by the board. Taylor Schneider was hired as a paraprofessional in the Functional Life Skills program.

Halley Hoffman, who graduated in May from Indiana University, was hired as a new math and Spanish teacher. Her teaching assignment will include Algebra I, Geometry and Spanish I. Aughenbaugh said Hoffman was also very excited to accept the football and basketball cheerleading sponsorship.

Kristi Barajas was approved as yearbook advisor after the resignation of Aaron Sester. Prior to resigning, Sester began training Barajas for the position. Aughenbaugh said Barajas has several years of yearbook experience and a great deal of interest in the position.

MHS is still seeking a physical education teacher and two paraprofessionals.


Aughenbaugh recognized Aaron Sester and Jason Artman, who have been working on Illinois Civics projects, and also Matt Gehm, who is working on summer projects. Sester and Artman are working on a Service Learning Project through the Illinois Civics Hub and Lou Frey Institute at the University of Central Florida, which involves a prairie/pollinator garden project.

She also commended band director, Paula Baker and the MHS Concert Band and Jazz Band and co-director, Jon Steben. The band’s summer concert took place outdoors last week and was very well attended.


Prusator said the LaSalle County Health Department’s COVID vaccine clinics being held at MHS will take place in the parking lot rather than the gym. The first dose clinic will be on June 23 and the second dose on July 31 for students 12 and older. The clinics are also open to the public.

COVID statistics at MHS during the 2020-21 school year were compiled by school nurse Sheri McConville and presented by Prusator. First semester, among students there were 25 positive tests and 139 had to be quarantined; staff had seven positive tests and nine had to be quarantined. Second semester, among students there were 21 positive tests and 90 had to be quarantined; staff had four positive tests and six had to be quarantined.

Both the football team and the girls’ soccer team had to be quarantined during second semester, which accounted for a large number of students quarantined.

Prusator said MHS held in-person classes for the whole school year with close to 400 students in the building, and was very pleased with those numbers. He also noted that all of the positive cases were due to contact outside of school and there was no spread of the virus at school.

Since there is no regular board meeting in July, Prusator was given permission to pay the July bills.

The next regular board of education meeting will be held at the high school on Monday, Aug. 16 at 6 p.m.