Dear Manhattan 114 Families:
Greetings! I hope that all of you have been enjoying the summer break. It has been one month since my last message and although we still have plenty of summer left, I wanted to update you on a few different items as we continue to plan for the next school year. Two questions that are on everyone’s mind are: 1) What will the school year look like? and 2) Will facemasks be required?
Let me begin answering those two questions by stating that I, the other administration, and the school board fully support our parents’ right to choose. Over time, as public educators and board members, we have often been faced with implementing rules and regulations, curriculum, and other measures that we may or may not personally agree with, but because we are a nation of laws and a system of governments from the federal level to the state level and all the way down to the local level, we are obliged to follow them.
However, like many of you, we have been making a case to every level of government that makes the rules and regulations for public schools from the Regional Office of Education, to the Will County Health Department, to IDPH, to the ISBE, and to the State Legislature. With the State of Illinois in Phase 5, we all believe that our families should all be able to make their own decisions in regards to when they feel they should or should not wear a facemask. Currently, the Governor issued an extension to his Executive Order, extending the wearing of facemasks in public and private schools, through July 24th. We continue to hope that by the time we begin school, that families and employees will have a choice. Regarding school in the Fall, I can tell you that we are planning on a complete return to normal schedules, including recess, lunches, physical education activities, etc., with the only exception being that we at the present time are unable to provide a definitive answer on the wearing of facemasks being optional and the 3 feet of social distance. I am closely monitoring the situation of a public school district that I am very familiar with, whose board made the decision to pass a resolution, granting the choice to their families. The school district has been placed on probation and has 60 days to comply or face the prospect of becoming unrecognized which could lead to the State appointing a new board, new administration, dissolving the district, and removing funding. Your support and understanding this past year was so instrumental in allowing us to be able to move forward. I pray we will continue to be able to work together as a school community in order to become stronger and better. I will continue to update all of you in regards to the answers to these two questions as I receive additional information.
As most of you are also aware, transportation has been significantly impacted during this time as well. Restrictions on the number of students allowed on a bus (49 students plus 1 driver), as well as the difficulty in securing drivers has not only greatly impacted Lincoln-Way 210 Transportation, but all busing companies and school districts everywhere. We have been diligently planning with Lincoln-Way 210 administration to ensure that we can continue a successful bus transportation experience for our students, regardless of the statewide shortage of bus drivers. We will continue to explore all options in our efforts to deal with the critical bus driver shortage as we work with LW210 to make certain that all routes for the LW districts are covered. I will have more information regarding transportation in the next week or so, possibly including a survey for you to complete.
Once again, I want to thank all of you for your understanding and your support. Have a safe and happy Fourth of July holiday
Rusty Ragon, Superintendent