A message from the Superintendent

July 3, 2020

Illini Bluffs School Family,

I would first like to say that we remain appreciative of your patience, effort, and support through these remarkable times, but recognize that for many it is getting more and more difficult.  We are all seeking a return to normal as soon as possible, but it appears that reality is going to take more time.

The response to our survey regarding in-person learning versus remote learning was incredibly helpful to our initial planning phase for reopening school in the fall.  It was made very clear that the large majority of you prefer in-person instruction this fall, with nearly 77 percent of those responding indicating so.

Throughout my career, I never imagined that there would be a worse decision to make than deciding on what to do on a snow day, but then I never anticipated a global pandemic.  We recognize that no decision we make will achieve 100% agreement from all of our stakeholders.  We all have to realize that for as strong a belief held by one family about appropriate actions, there is likely another family that holds as strong a belief in the opposite direction.  As a school district, we are caught right in the middle of those two passionate positions.

We intend to make the most reasonable decisions possible, communicate the result and opportunities associated with those decisions, and provide parents with as much freedom as possible to choose what is best for your child.

Beliefs that frame our decisions:

*The best education for our students results from the school experience, which includes in-classroom instruction, extracurricular experiences, daily peer interactions, and academic extensions beyond the classroom.

*There are only two certainties in keeping COVID-19 out of our schools: 

1) don’t open our schools or 

2) never have anyone enter our building who is sick. 

Neither seem reasonable given the feedback of our families or the reality of the transmission of viruses. 

*Expecting students to wear masks is challenging. It seems reasonable to assume that our students will struggle to wear them properly, not fidget with them during the day, keep them available and clean, or simply sustain the all-day frustration of having something on their face. Dealing with the consequence of enforcing such a mandate seems equally challenging and frustrating for everyone involved. When it comes to this decision, we have to be honest with ourselves about the reality of expecting students who range in ages from 3-19 to consistently and properly wear masks all day.  We will do our best to comply, and we will rely on you to impress the importance of the mandate on your children.

*The Illini Bluffs School system has the ability to leverage technology in order to deliver instruction in the classroom and to the home. 

*It is early July and a lot can change between now and when school starts in August.

We will release our plan to open school to our public between July 21 and July 25, 2020. Our first draft will be developed in such a manner that it honors the feedback of our families, the reality of what we believe we can put in operation, and, as much as possible, the guidance from various state agencies. We expect that there will be adjustments to the plan before the start of school, but we are hopeful that the foundation of the plan will sustain and remain unchanged. There are no right answers in this moment, and we concede that there is only one certainty: not a single person will agree with the entirety of our plan. We are going to do everything we can to be reasonable in our planning based upon an honest assessment of reality and provide each family with the greatest flexibility for choice in this environment. 

It is our hope that we can take time to recognize and reflect on several things. Continue to root for the scientists and medical professionals that are trying to solve the challenges associated with this virus. Take the time to celebrate the obstacles that we have overcome and the innovations that have made us more capable. Understand that everyone sees this situation uniquely and not let those unique perspectives divide us. 

Thank you for your continued patience and support.

Roger Alvey, Ed. D.