About half of District 87 students plan to stay in remote learning when the district resumes in-person instruction next week.
Superintendent Barry Reilly said he had hoped more students would return to the classroom Jan. 19 for the hybrid format, even as students, teachers and staff manage their safety during the coronavirus pandemic.
“I was a little disappointed in that. I had hoped we would see a higher percentage,” Reilly said. “I think it is important for kids to be in school, although I certainly don’t fault parents for making those decisions,” Reilly said.
District 87 students in grades 7 through 12 will be in the classroom for the first time this school year.
The district kept classes virtual for the first two weeks after the holiday break so everyone could quarantine.
Four staff members have tested positive for the coronavirus since the break.
The district reports 35 students and 32 staff have tested positive for the coronavirus since late October, according to its online dashboard.
Reilly said school nurses, therapists and social workers have started to schedule their COVID vaccinations and some already have received the vaccine. Reilly said he hopes teachers, paraprofessionals and administrators will follow in the coming weeks.
“I’m hopeful that come February will be have all educators who have the ability to get the vaccine (get it). That’s my hope. I have no knowledge of how many vaccines are here in the community,” Reilly said.
Educators are included among the Phase 1b priority group that is next in line to get vaccinated after health care workers and nursing home residents.
According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, about 4,600 people In McLean County have received at least one dose of the vaccine.
Bond sale questions
Reilly said a review of financial records involving a recently-fined Bloomington investment banking firm has not turned up any irregularities.
First Midstate faced charges from the federal Securities and Exchange Commission for not telling municipal bond clients about business practices that caused some to see lower yields.
District 87 has used First Midstate for several bond sales, including last year when the district issued $15 million in working cash bonds.
“I was surprised to see that in the news,” Reilly said. “That’s something that obviously we’ll have to consider as we look to the future for any other financial considerations that might require assistance,” he said.
Reilly added he has notified the school board of the charges against First Midstate, but said the district doesn’t plan to seek any additional bond sales “in the immediate future."
First Midstate works mostly with school districts in Illinois.
Columbus Day change
Some students in the district have pushed to have Columbus Day replaced with Indigenous People's Day in their schools.
Reilly said he will propose the school board waive the Columbus Day holiday while students petition state legislators to adopt it.
“That has yet to be changed at the state level, but we can do this. It’s a way to signal to the community we recognize it, it’s important to us, we know it’s important to you and so this is our way to be able to address it right now,” Reilly said.
He said the district would still close school that day. Bloomington high and junior high schools host a music festival audition every year that brings students from across the state.
Coach Loy honored
Meeting Wednesday night, the District 87 school board approved naming the BHS swimming pool facility “Bob Loy Natatorium,” in honor of the longtime teacher and swim coach who died in October.
“Everyone that brought this forward was extremely supportive and felt this was a great way to honor his legacy and the impact that he had on kids over the years,” Reilly said.
Loy coached more than 120 all-state swimmers at BHS and more than 60 went on to become All-Americans during Loy’s near four decades at BHS.
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