Winnebago Co. school administrators address back to school plans

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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) ─ Summer break is coming to an end for Winnebago County students. For administrators, making back to school plans has taken up most of their time the last few months. The Winnebago County Health Department has been with them each step of the way. Friday, those administrators shared what a day of learning will look like in the fall.

“We have procured PPE, disinfectant, electrostatic sprayers,” said Kinnikinnick School District Superintendent Keli Freedlund. “We’ve procured masks, face shields, gloves.”

The list goes on of extra supplies Winnebago County school districts are stocking up on for the start of the school year. Other than PPE, back to school plans look very different for each district.

“Every school district in Winnebago County has unique challenges and so it’s impossible to compare districts at all different sizes,” said Freedlund.

“Because we’re smaller, we’ll be more comfortable to come back to school five days a week on our generally normal schedule,” added Alpine Academy Operations Director Scott Dabson.

Administrators from four Winnebago County School districts joined Winnebago County Health Department Director Dr. Sandra Martell for a Friday COVID-19 update. All shared glimpses into what a day at school will look like for their students.

Over half of Rockford Public Schools students opted to distance learn, which freed up space for in-person students.

“For example a school like Guilford High School, that normally may have 2,000 students, will have less than 1,000,” said RPS 205 Superintendent Dr. Ehren Jarrett. “And because the building was designed for that, the students will he spread out through all of their normal class arrangements, with smaller classes, so that will allow us to really spread out the students.”

A sick student will raise more alarms.

“They are setting up areas, so that anyone who would screen positive, or become symptomatic during the day, that they could quickly isolate them,” said Winnebago County Health Department Director Dr. Sandra Martell. “Rockford Public Schools, instead of calling them isolation rooms, I think they’re calling them lounges, so that it’s not a scary concept.”

Teachers also have to be ready to switch to remote learning in case of an outbreak.

“We’d be looking at how many of those children would be exposed and they may go into remote learning from the classroom perspective, so that cohort class and teacher would go remote,” said Martell.

Parents and community members will have a chance to address their concerns with the upcoming school year Tuesday, August 18th during a Winnebago County Health Department Facebook Live event. Dr. Martell will answer any questions families have.

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