Bement School Board Discusses Re-Opening Plan

By CHRISTY JANKOWSKI
Staff Writer

The Bement School Board met for their regularly scheduled August meeting in person in their gymnasium, socially distanced for the first time on August 12. They discussed students returning this week, amongst other things regarding the “new normal.”

Out of an approximate 290 student body total, 52 students signed up for the remote learning option, leaving 238 for in person. Superintendent Greenwood stated that registration went really well, “Basically the parents got to see what the kids are going to go through with the temp check… Everyone was really polite and no one said anything contradictory. Everyone just rolled with it, which was very nice.”

Superintendent Sheila Greenwood feels confident they will get a quality education. Bement has a contract with Educere, which specializes in online curriculum for K-12 students and the online teachers provided by the company are based in Illinois.

Remote/distance learning, referred to as the “Bement Online Academy,” will not be cheap for the school district. At $499.75 each, 52 licenses will run the district $25,987.00. Parents will be required to pay $200 per student for online learning, but since they will not have registration fees, they should come close to breaking even.

On Monday, August 17, Bement welcomed their students back for a half day of attendance, with the focus on getting reacquainted with students in the new in person guidelines for schools. She stated they will meet in groups “Doing it all together because it shows all of the kids my kids would get to meet Mr. Kepley. Just a reminder we are all in this together and we appreciate their efforts in making this work because we can’t do it without them.” Adding, “They are going to be a real big important part of that. I am sure they will have a lot of questions for us. I mean, hey haven’t been in the building for 6 months which is kinda crazy.”

Bement will run and 8:05-2 pm dismissal for all grades. The extra hour after will allow for deep cleaning. The district also put up cooling tents for students to use for shaded outdoor mask breaks.

Greenwood admitted the new IDPH guidelines released August 12 might make for an interesting year. “If you see here if someone has one symptom they can be excluded.

So what you have to do is say you have allergies and it’s allergy season, I am probably going to do that knowing your health history of allergy probably, and you have a second symptom allergy related or not, you will be excluded.” Adding the difficulty will come soon with cold and flu season, “You are going to have kids with sniffles, you are going to have so many of these things.And you can’t go do a covid test and shorten your quarantine time.” Adding that if you have the symptoms even with a negative test students will have to remain isolated for at least 14 days, 10 if positive. However, before returning to school students must exhibit no symptoms and be fever free without any fever reducing medication such as Tylenol.

However, Greenwood is hopeful as the positivity rate has remained low in the Bement zip code area. She stated while Dewitt-Piatt County stated 3 feet would be a fine separation distance, they are sticking with the 6 feet social distance spacing recommendation. “We are sticking with 6 feet on everything we are doing and also just as far as surfaces and stuff we are still going to be cleaning the surfaces very consistently throughout the day.” Board Member Janice Forgeson asked, “How are you able to do the 6ft with the desks?” To which Greenwood responded, “All of our classrooms were able to do hat, with the kids that decided remote, that brought our numbers down in those classrooms.”

Sports with A.D. Cline

Assistant Principal/Athletic Director Steve Cline reported on the ever ongoing changing world of sports.

IHSA:

As of now the only two fall sports going are cross country and golf. They do have restrictions in place for how many are allowed to participate or as spectators. With the 50 person limit their annual Cross Country Meet scheduled for Allerton will take place elsewhere. “ Mr. Brown and I are going to come up with a course around here, through Coles Pasture, whatever we gotta do. We are still going to do that.” Adding, “Their season is about the only one that is normal for the time of year.”

Basketball is scheduled to go from November 16 to February 3, and they are only allowed 20 games total. “We are only allowed in all sports and this is what is going to make basketball and other sports challenging, only two contests a week.” Normally a season may consist of more than 30 games. At this time, Regionals are a possibility, but no knowledge of State tournaments.

The Volleyball and Football season moved from fall to February 15 to May 1, with the first football game on March 5. Homecoming will be March 12. Football has a seven game schedule, but no explanation yet on how playoffs may or may not go. Cline said of football, “From the numbers

I heard coming to summer workouts, I don’t know if we have a varsity team.”

Baseball and Track begin May 3, and run until June 26.

IESA:

Currently for Junior High Sports the only sport going is cross country, and the IESA is planning for sectionals.

Boys Basketball begins on January 4, with their first game on January 16 lasting 5 weeks with only two contests allowed per week. Cline stated all ten games have been scheduled, and there will be sectionals.

Girls Volleyball begins on January 11, with the first game on January 23 lasting 5 weeks with all ten games scheduled. First game January 23 and again 5 weeks and all ten games for them scheduled.

Cline stated about girls basketball and track, “This is where I get a little upset.” Adding, “So our girls basketball players that want to do track are going to be in for a long hard March and April and May if they choose to do both. Not really fair to players and coaches, not really happy.

Girls basketball begins March 8 with track and field beginning March 1.

As far as spectators, the district is unsure if they will be allowed or not. They can have 50 people in one spot and 50 in another spot 30 feet away with masks, but the district went with installing a service to live stream games with the NHS. “They came in and they are giving us the equipment and reduced their set up fees to $1,500. I actually talked to Argenta Oreana that did it last year, and their setup was $4,000.” Adding. “So we will be able to stream. They will put two cameras on the scoreboard and one on the court. So if someone can’t come to the game or lives out of state or wants to watch their grandchild or if we can’t have spectators, we can stream it.” The catch he stated was you have to subscribe monthly to the service, but at least there will be an option for spectators.

The Bement Board presented their budget, which will be available for public viewing for 30 days. She stated for the fiscal year of 2021 the budget is balanced with a total projection of expenses of $47,455 and $84,727 of operating funds total.

Important Dates:

August 22 first day of Saturday School and August 29 for 16 students total from spring incompletions

September 1 Picture Day

September 4 SIP Day

September 7 No School, Labor Day

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