STATEWIDE MANDATORY SCHOOL CLOSURES MARCH 17-30
March 16th, 2020
Dear Parents and Guardians,
Our Administrative Team began working on plans for a possible shutdown early last week before anything was announced. We are working with state and community partners to protect our community during the growing coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic. To further safeguard Illinois from the spread of the virus, Governor JB Pritzker declared mandatory school closures for all buildings, both public and private, serving pre-kindergarten through 12th grade students.
This mandatory closure takes effect Tuesday, March 17. Currently, we anticipate reopening on March 31. During this time there are to be no school sponsored functions including practices or any extra-curricular activities. We have also been told that it is very possible this forced closure could be extended into April.
Free lunch and breakfast will be available to all students starting on Tuesday, March 17th. All meals will be bagged for pick up daily between the hours of (9:00am - 10:00am). People can pick up a free breakfast and lunch sack for every child regardless of their designation of free, reduced or paid. All meals will be free to all students during this forced closure. There will be 3 meal pickup locations: New Central Elementary (back door drive through by the gym/cafeteria door), the Kilbourne (Fire Station), and the Bath bus stop (one block east of the square by city hall).
We are committed to keeping students engaged in their learning during this statewide school closure. Last week our administrators were developing e-learning plans for educating students at home. The governor declared these days "Act of God" days which is an official school calendar designation. These days don't have to be made up and our remaining emergency days don't have be used during this period. Education is not required during Act of God days, so no grades should be given and no student should be punished for not doing work on these days. It is required that we provide learning opportunities for students during this time and we have.
To supplement these services, the Illinois State Board of Education encourages you to engage your children in other free, online educational activities. The Illinois State Board of Education has compiled a library of resources at www.isbe.net/keeplearning. We are sending students home with devices and books so they can keep learning during these days off.
Concern over this new virus can make children anxious. It is very important to remember that children look to adults for guidance on how to react to stressful events. If adults seem overly worried, children's anxiety may rise. Adults should reassure children that health and school officials are working hard to ensure that people throughout the country stay healthy.
Children also need factual, age-appropriate information about the potential seriousness of disease risk, so the focus of conversation should be concrete instructions about how to avoid infections and the spread of disease. Teaching children positive measures, talking with them about their fears, and giving them a sense of some control over their risk of infections can help reduce anxiety.
Please talk with your children about precautions they can take to stay healthy, including:
- Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds is best, especially if they are visibly dirty. An alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol is a suitable alternative. Consider showing your children one of these videos about proper hand washing technique: www.cdc.gov/handwashing.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands.
- Stay home if you are able to stay home. Avoid travel if you can.
The National Association of School Psychologists has additional guidelines about talking to children about COVID-19 at https://www.nasponline.org/resources-and-publications/resources-and-podcasts/school-climate-safety-and-crisis/health-crisis-resources/talking-to-children-about-covid-19-(coronavirus)-a-parent-resource.
This is a very fluid and ever changing situation and there is no precedent to be followed. The governor, the state of Illinois, ISBE, communities and schools are all doing the best they can to limit the spread of this virus. Sometimes we get information and direction from one of these agencies only to have it changed just hours later with new information. You need to be patient and wait for information to be shared. Sharing information only to have it changed hours later can become very confusing to people. When we feel we have finalized accurate information to share, we will use the district web page and our social media platforms to do so. Please do not hesitate to email your building administrator or Superintendent Plater if you have specific questions. This action is being done to limit the spread of the virus, so please keep your children home and out of the public as much as possible.
R. Mathew Plater