Some restrictions are being loosened at MHS

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MENDOTA – Mendota High School students will have a few less COVID-19 restrictions in the coming days. Reporting at the March 18 District 280 Board of Education meeting, Superintendent Jeff Prusator said the rules for social distancing, cafeteria service and temperature checks have all been relaxed by the state.

The social distancing rule has gone from a minimum of six-feet to three to six feet. Prusator said the virus has not been spreading in schools, so he was pleased with the change, however he noted that the rule for contact tracing is still six feet. This means anyone within six feet of a person testing positive must quarantine.

The state also lifted ban for the 50-person maximum in one space, such as gyms or auditoriums during the school day. Now, schools may have as many people as can be kept six feet apart. “This opens things for us,” Prusator said, “but it will probably change again.”

Students may also notice a change at lunchtime in the coming weeks. School cafeterias are now allowed to serve plated food rather than being limited to sack lunches. Prusator said the high school will consider doing that in April. “It would be great for students to have that choice. They would still have to be spaced out while waiting in line but it’s just one more step to get back to normal,” he noted.

Daily temperature checks at school are no longer mandated and will be eliminated at MHS starting March 22. Students are already taking their temperature each morning at home and self-certifying. Prusator said school nurse Sheri McConville has had to flag very few students for a high temperature. “Our kids have just been awesome [following the rules],” he explained. “When I’m observing students in the hallways, no kids have their masks down. The kids have done a great job.”

One big change will be the rule for remote learning. This year, any student could choose remote learning without a reason but next year, a student must have a health condition or have a member of the household with a health condition to opt for remote learning.

Football season

With football season starting in two weeks, plans are being made to allow as many spectators as possible to attend the games while maintaining safety protocols. Because of larger attendance numbers at these games, Prusator said football is much more complicated than any other sport. Spectators not in the same household need to be spaced six feet apart; groups of four from the same household may sit together. In addition to the bleachers, MHS might also be able to use the hillside, track and end zone areas for student seating. The hillside parking spots would be limited to every other spot.

“We’re still working on the details for all of this so it’s subject to change,” Prusator said. “We’ll make announcements and hope for cooperation from everyone, but we want to do everything we can to involve as many students as we can at the games.”

PRINCIPAL’S REPORT

SAT Prep Class

Approximately 63 students are attending the evening SAT Prep class held weekly at MHS and online through Khan Academy. Aughenbaugh thanked Mr. Artman, Mrs. Campbell, Mr. Straughn and Mr. Wohrley for teaching the classes.

Juniors will take the SAT test on Tuesday, April 13. Freshmen, sophomores and seniors will not be in attendance that day. The SAT is required for graduation, and all juniors, whether remote or in-person, must take the test in-person per ISBE requirements. The standardized tests for freshmen and sophomores was waived for this year, but the SAT was not.

In addition, juniors are required to take the Illinois Science Assessment, which will be scheduled some time this spring.

Early Graduation Requests

The board approved 22 early graduation requests. Aughenbaugh said they are seeing an increase in the number of students who are working full-time or nearly full-time to contribute financially to their families. Students are also making requests to join the military and start college.

Commendations

Aughenbaugh recognized Alex Medina and Isabelle Escatel, who are both members of the 60 by 25 Student Advisory Council. The conference focused on the importance of equity and making education more equitable. Medina was also a student presenter at the conference. Advance Illinois, Education Systems Center at Northern Illinois University (EdSystems), and the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) are establishing a Student Advisory Council to gather feedback on how students experience various initiatives the Network supports. Network organizers also seek to understand what supports would be helpful to students as they navigate the education system. “This was a good leadership opportunity for them,” Aughenbaugh said. “They volunteered for this, and we’re very proud of how they represented MHS.”

Also recognized were FFA members Jack Beetz and Elizabeth Schillinger, who advanced to the FFA District 2 Proficiency and Star Interviews held this week after competing in the Section 7 Proficiency interviews for their Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) projects. Beetz also advanced in the District competition and now moves on to State.

National Honor Society

The National Honor Society completed its annual inductions through virtual presentations and awards. Seniors inducted include Jack Beetz, Mary DeFore, Janeth Hermosillo, Samuel Lawrence, Natalie Orozco and Madison Pappas; junior inductees are Faith Anderson, Bailey Baird, Natalie Bodmer, Logan Brandner, Lizzie Bresley, Elle Buettner, Kelsey Castro, Zachari Compell, Vanessa Escatel, Zoe Finley, Ethan Hanaman, Sophie Holland, Alejandro Hermosillo, Jenna Kerchner, Ted Landgraf, Lorena Magallanes, Paige Manning, Maya Martin, Liam McGann, Olivia Ross, Aliza Salinas, Elizabeth Schillinger, Toree Sliwa, Andrew Stamberger, Allison Stewart, Alex Stremlau and Isabella Tolentino.

PERSONNEL

Following closed session, the board approved Taylor Gibson as a volunteer volleyball coach and Kody Becket as a baseball/softball field preparation worker.

The next regular board of education meeting will be held at the high school on Monday, April 19 at 6 p.m.