By Steve Robinson | May 2, 2020 - 10:25 pm
Posted in Category: The Normalite, Unit 5

NORMAL – Board members of Normal-based Unit 5 School Board conducted a special session on April 29 remotely due to the continuing Coronavirus-19 pandemic, with the primary subject of electing officers for the Board for the next year. All votes taken for the positions of those nominated for president, vice president, and secretary were unanimous.

Amy Roser was voted in to serve as president of the Board, succeeding Barry Hitchins. Hitchins had held the post since May 2018 succeeding Jim Hayek, Jr., who resigned from the Board due to a job transfer that year through his employer, State Farm. Roser assumed a seat on the Board in July 2018 filling a seat following Hayek’s exit. Roser works in the office of Illinois State University’s University College division.

Board Member Alan Kalitzky was elected Board Vice President succeeding Roser in that post. Kalitzky assumed a seat on the Board replacing David W. Fortner’s resignation in spring of 2018 to take a job in Chicago. Dr. Kelly Pyle was unanimously named Board Secretary. She came onto the Board assuming a seat in August 2018, filling a vacancy left by Joe Cleary, who departed for a job in California.

Last Day Of School Year Announced: In a memo to Board members, District Superintendent Dr. Mark Daniel reported the last day for remote learning for district students has been set for Friday, May 22. He added district staff members will have a Remote Learning planning day on Tuesday, May 26, and a School Improvement day on Wednesday, May 27.

Despite Pandemic, District To Maintain First Day Exclusion Policy: Board members were informed the district will, despite the pandemic, continue its use of a first day exclusion policy, explained Dayna Brown, Director of Communications and Community Relations for the district.

Under the policy first established in 2009, if a student is due for a school physical because they are about to enter either pre-school, kindergarten, sixth, or ninth grade, the physical must be turned in and the immunizations must be up to date by the first day of school. If this is not completed by the first day of school, the student will not be allowed to attend until the District receives the required forms. No appointment dates are currently accepted because the district found it difficult to track and created additional work for the district, Brown explained.

Brown told Board members that, given the current environment as a result of COVID-19, the McLean County Health Department has indicated to Unit 5 it does not know what its immunization capabilities will be this summer. In addition, Brown explained, several pediatrician offices have been closed to patients for several weeks, and are just beginning to see patients, thus potentially creating a backlog.

As a result of those facts, Unit 5 will continue its policy of First Day Exclusion, but will allow for appointment cards to be accepted this fall only. This exception would be based on a delay in the ability to obtain the necessary immunizations and/or physicals due to COVID-19. If an appointment card is accepted, families will have until Oct. 15 to show proof of completion. If the appointment is missed, a student will be excluded from school on Oct. 16.

“If students don’t have their shots by that first day of school, they have to have had a medical appointment set up by then,” Brown explained. She added the policy has “been extremely successful at implementing this policy resulting in a small number of students who were not compliant on the first day.”

The district did not extend the deadline for students to have their shots or the appointment arranged, Brown said. She said it will be necessary for students to have one or the other by the first day of school slated by the district for Wednesday, Aug. 19.

Online registration of students began May 4.

Meals And Belongings Collection: On a couple of other subjects, Brown said the district has recently surpassed serving 50,000 meals to students, breakfasts and lunches, through May, with plans being sorted out to continue the service into the summer. She added the district has been granted a waiver by the State which would permit high school students back into their schools to collect any belongings. Brown added Unit 5 is working on logistics for those students who left items at school in March to be able to collect them. But with close to 2,000 students per school, accomplishing the task takes some advanced planning when social distancing is being required, she said.

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