By Steve Robinson | May 14, 2020 - 10:36 pm
Posted in Category: The Normalite, Unit 5

NORMAL – The current Covid-19 pandemic has not allowed for people to have much face-to-face interaction unless there was either a computer monitor or some distance between people interacting. A recent survey taken of Unit 5 parents of high school seniors indicates they would like to see their children receive their diplomas. And if that’s permissible, the district superintendent said at the most recent Normal-based Unit 5 School Board meeting, that will happen.

During the scheduled Board meeting on May 13, done electronically, District Superintendent Dr. Mark Daniel told Board members the results of a recent survey of parents of high school seniors in the district showed they were in favor of seeing seniors receive diplomas in person. To that end, and if public health guidelines allow for it, he said, that in-person ceremony will take place on Aug. 1 at Grossinger Arena.

In addition to the tentative date announced, both Normal Community High School and Normal Community West High School plan to release a graduation video to parents of high school students on what would have been the originally scheduled graduation day, May 23.

“This video will highlight the positives of the Class of 2020 and will hopefully serve as something that everyone can cherish in the coming days,” Daniel said.

Pandemic Postpones Summer School: Daniel announced the scheduled summer school for district students has been postponed.

Breakfast, Lunch Delivery To Continue Through June: In addition, Daniel said the district will continue to deliver breakfasts and lunches to students as they have since late March, through June. By the end of the middle of May, he added, the district has passed the 80,000 lunches mark.

Teachers Going Beyond Recognized: Three district teachers received recognition for how they have tried to maintain contact with their students and their families during separation from the classroom as a result of the pandemic. First, Daniel recognized Lauren Romero, a kindergarten and first grade music teacher at Benjamin Elementary School. A scheduled concert got cancelled as a result of the district schools shutting down, Daniel said. But Romero created videos of each song on the meeting platform Zoom that included the words and music and accompanying gestures for each song to give to each student so the student could share the performance they would have given with their families.

George L. Evans Junior High School Principal Chris McGraw was also mentioned by Daniel, specifically for his morning announcements he gives students to start their day over the school public announcement system. Daniel said McGraw’s announcements “are quite uplifting. He is a caring person, no doubt, and the announcements are focused on a kindness mindset.”

Daniel also gave a nod to Towanda Elementary School Principal Scott Vogel for the way he presents daily messages to students on the school P.A. system. Daniel said a parent who had occasion to hear Vogel mentioned it to Daniel in passing.

“I just want to thank all our staff – our teachers, our administrators – for all that they are doing,” Daniel said.

Board Meetings To Start 30 Minutes Earlier Beginning In July: When the 2020-21 school year begins, it will mean a change for start times of Board meetings. Beginning in July, all Board meetings will start one half-hour earlier than they have before, starting at 6:30p.m. That new time will begin with the lone scheduled Board meeting set for July 15.

In a text to The Normalite, Dayna Brown, Director of Communications and Community Relations for Unit 5, explained, “Every year, we look at the calendar and see if we should make any changes. We decided to make the change for the upcoming year.” As for moving the singular meeting date in July, Brown said meetings were moved to that date because it’s the only meeting that month and there are no conflicts with that date. Meetings during the school year will remain on the 2nd and 4th Wednesdays.

Board Approves Revised Graduation Policies: Board members unanimously approved a resolution which would suspend Board policies and approve graduation requirements revised as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. District Deputy Superintendent Dr. Ray Epperson told Board members explained Illinois State Board of Education recently made a change in State graduation requirements related to number of hours needed for a diploma.

Credit requirements for primary areas of study such as English, Math, and Science were shortened by one half-credit, or one half-semester, Epperson said, adding, Illinois State Board of Education had approved a change in State graduation requirements as a result of the pandemic.

As a result of the change, seniors at both Normal Community High School and Normal West Community High School will need a total of 21 credits to graduate instead of 24 credits which was normally required. Epperson said there are about 110 seniors total from both schools who will need to complete coursework right up until graduation in order to receive their diploma.

Board Member Meta Mickens-Baker asked Epperson about whether some seniors might have to take additional classes once they get to college because they now, as a result of the pandemic, need to take at the college level to satisfy admission requirements. Epperson said that matter would be up to the individual colleges. He added ISBE is working with individual colleges to resolve any matters related to that, and that some colleges are changing their admission requirements because of Covid-19.

Mickens-Baker also asked Epperson what issues the reduction in course hours required might cause students once they get to college. Epperson said such matters would have to handled by individual colleges.

Board Approves Abating Working Cash Fund: Board members unanimously approved abating the district’s working cash fund emptying those dollars from working cash into the district’s education fund to cover operational expenses, according to Marty Hickman, district business manager.

This entry was posted on Thursday, May 14th, 2020 at 10:36 pm and is filed under The Normalite, Unit 5. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

Comments are closed.