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H-F High School board addresses opening week glitches

Late buses, lunchtime issues and limited attempts to meet social distancing were concerns several parents brought to the District 233 school board at its Monday, Aug. 23, meeting.

Two of the parents, concerned about safety during the COVID-19 pandemic, asked for a remote learning option for their students at Homewood-Flossmoor High School. The third asked for a better way to keep social distancing in school and better inform parents on school protocols related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Administrators said they are aware of the issues parents raised. Superintendent Von Mansfield told the audience, “There have been some opportunities to change and make some adjustments” since the first day of school on Aug. 13, although late buses are out of the control of the district.

H-F is following the Illinois State Board of Education mandate for all students to return to their classrooms, unless they have a medical reason to be absent. ISBE says remote learning is not an option this year.


District 233 conducted three virtual meetings during the summer to share information with parents and hear their concerns. The district has prepared various newsletters with return-to-school information. Staff is updating information on the website, but parents said they didn’t find a concise plan there on what the district is doing.

Board members and administrators assured parents that their comments were welcome and important, whether given in person, by email or phone. 

Staff will be updating the COVID-19 dashboard daily, rather than weekly. ‘

Before COVID, lunch periods would overlap. Now each group has a specific time for lunch, extended times from 30 to 41 minutes, and to better accommodate student social distancing, the South Building gym is serving as a lunchroom. 

“We never, ever want to be at a point where we feel like people in the community, that you’re not getting enough communication from us,” board member Michelle Hoereth said. “We need to be nimble. We need to remember the word grace.  And we also need to make sure we’re creating opportunities so we can pivot, we can track, we can do better, we can praise. Whatever it is, we need to create opportunities for that because this (virus) isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.”

H-F also will have the Shield COVID-19 test available. The Shield test was developed by the University of Illinois and is being made available to schools in Illinois. However, there is a waiting list to get the materials and work with a vendor handling the testing, said Superintendent-elect Scott Wakeley, but he’s been assured that H-F remains on the list.

Dana Noble, president of the H-F Education Organization, told the board that teachers and students were excited to be back. He believed everyone was following protocols the best they could in classrooms, there’s been no problem with mask wearing, and he said students have been diligent about three-foot separation during passing periods.

Wakeley told parents: “The thoughtful sharing of concerns is much appreciated and really speaks volumes of our community. That’s not being done all over the state and the country. So, it’s nice to hear things, challenges that we have, but we can work together in a very respectful and positive way, and I think we’re an example for the rest of the state.”

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