East Moline School District families and employees,
We are truly in unprecedented times. Last spring, the world as we know it came to a sudden halt. We were thrust into a public health emergency that most of us have never experienced. The way our employees and community sprang to action to ensure a continuity of education and feeding our students was inspirational. I am honored to work with and for such amazing individuals.
We have had valuable time with our students face-to-face. However, I now believe the time is right for us to move to online learning with EMSD Anywhere for the remainder of the first quarter. We will be in session for in-person learning this week, meeting our new students and furthering connections with students we met last week as well. Starting next Monday (August 31), we will move to a strictly online environment until the end of the fall break (October 12).
Our current public health situation will determine if we will return to hybrid or in-person learning for the second quarter of our school year. We will communicate to all families and employees by the September 28 regular Board of Education meeting if we will return to any in-person learning to start the 2nd quarter. This will allow our families time to plan. The Board of Education authorized our school district to build three scalable plans to be able to respond to the current public health situation in the community: full in-person, a hybrid of online and in-person, and fully remote. We will continue to utilize those plans while working to improve as we go.
The Illinois Department of Public Health has laid out guidelines on dealing with symptomatic individuals in a school setting. If a student or adult has any of the symptoms, including a fever above 100.4 degrees, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, shortness of breath, cough, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, new loss of sense of taste or smell, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain - then the individual and those who were within 6 feet for at least 15 minutes must be sent home for 10-14 days and can only return with a negative COVID-19 test or a note from a physician stating an alternative diagnosis. As you can see, these are symptoms that are normal for most of us, sometimes on a regular basis. Out of an abundance of caution, our public health officials have determined these are the symptoms we must watch for as a society to keep everyone safe. Masks, social distancing, washing our hands, and remaining home when we have one of these symptoms is the best way for our country to get back on track. However, it is very difficult to keep individuals in school with such an extensive list of symptoms to monitor.
Online learning will never replace the relationship between a teacher and a student. There is nothing better in education than seeing a teacher empower a student to be in control of their own learning. The way a child lights up when they’ve figured something out by working through it, is something to behold. It’s not something that is easily replicated over a computer. However, I also know that we have come a long way since last spring with our virtual presence. All students in grades K-8 now have their own device. There’s nothing we can’t do because we know how important our mission is. We will continue to learn this year, and we will continue to get better each and every day with online learning.
We believe for online learning to work best, we must work to build connections between the student and teacher. It is very difficult, although not impossible, to build a connection over a computer. It has been our goal from the outset for our teachers to meet our students in person to build a connection before the possibility of moving to online instruction. Social-emotional learning is incredibly important in the best of times, let alone during a world pandemic. Our teachers make an incredible difference in the lives of children and by building those connections, we believe the learning can be even better at a much more impactful level.
I look forward to seeing the incredible ingenuity of our teachers as they work to create amazing learning opportunities for our students.
Dr. Kristin Humphries
Superintendent of Schools