Supt Journal

  • People Do

    Posted by Alan Boucher on 7/29/2021

    I heard something profound while listening to a radio interview recently.  The person being interviewed said that tools are important when building a house, but the tools don’t build a house, people do.  That simple statement really struck me.  I immediately applied the idea to education.

    It is important to have great facilities, programs, and well-developed curriculum, but those things do not educate our students, people do.  We need smart, well-trained, and dedicated employees who work together to make sure every child gets a great education.  The job becomes much easier when we have great facilities, successful programs, and well-developed curriculum, but at the core, we must have a great staff.

    This is my 15th year working in the Sherrard School District (1998-2006 & 2015-present) and I have discovered over and over again that we have a great staff.  All the pandemic challenges of the last school year demonstrated it.  The Illinois State Board of Education acknowledged it by giving 4 of our 5 schools the highest rating of “exemplary.”  Only 6 of the other 52 schools in the Quad Cities Area (Illinois side) received the highest rating.  This great staff will be returning again this year and, despite the challenges that are sure to come, it will continue to demonstrate greatness.

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  • Vaccination is a key component for the lifting of restrictions

    Posted by Alan Boucher on 6/14/2021

    Happily, the number of positive Covid cases continues to decrease. Last November, there were more than 15,000 new cases reported each day. Now, the daily infection rate is in the range of 300-400. Researchers estimate that herd immunity could happen when 70% of the population has had the virus or has become fully vaccinated.

    Districts continue to wait for final guidance about how the upcoming school year will look. We will develop plans for the fall as new information becomes available. Here are a few examples of things that will most likely be realities this fall.

    • Since entering Phase 5 of the Governor’s Covid plan, there are no attendance restrictions for athletics or extra-curricular activities.
    • On May 17, the Governor announced that the Illinois State Board of Education and the Illinois Department of Public Health are mandating that everyone wear a mask at school during the 2021-2022 school year. It is my personal opinion that they will alter the mask mandate at some point. The state expects all students to return to school this fall. 
    • There will be an allowance for remote learning for a very small number of students who have specific health situations.
    • Students who are fully vaccinated may resume sports-related activities without wearing masks or maintaining physical distance from others for any sport, both indoors and outdoors.
    • Students who are fully vaccinated may skip routine testing for Covid.  The state has said that Covid testing will be done in schools for those who aren’t fully vaccinated.
    • Students who are fully vaccinated with no symptoms of Covid do not need to be quarantined; be restricted from school, athletics, or another extracurricular activity.
    • The Illinois Department of Public Health has stated that students who are not fully vaccinated should continue to wear a mask during sports-related activities played indoors.

    As you can see from the information above, vaccination is a key component for the lifting of restrictions. It takes about five weeks for a student to become fully vaccinated. The second dose of the Pfizer vaccine is given 3 weeks after the first dose, and there is a 2-week waiting period after the second dose before a student is considered fully vaccinated. Students who start the vaccine process today can expect to be fully vaccinated during the 3rd week of July. The experts have stated that the known and potential benefits of Covid vaccination outweigh the known and potential risks.

    The Illinois Department of Public Health has developed a document of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for the topic of vaccinating young people. 

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  • Staff Appreciation

    Posted by Alan Boucher on 5/6/2021

    Our primary goal in education is to get the children ready for adulthood.  It’s a clear goal everyone knows and understands.  When the students graduate from high school, we want them to have the skills and knowledge to excel at whatever they choose to do.  We want them to be balanced socially and emotionally.  When an elderly lady needs to cross the street, we want our graduates to notice the need, take initiative to assist her, and then expect no compensation or recognition afterward.  We want the graduates to live their lives beyond themselves.

    This important task takes years of dedicated effort to accomplish. The teachers lead the charge, but they need the support of paraprofessionals, food service workers, secretaries, transportation employees, custodians, maintenance workers, nurses, technology workers, certified support staff, non-certified support staff, coaches, supervisors, administrators, board members, volunteers, and parents.  Everyone’s effort, whether seen or unseen, deserves appreciation.

    There are times when we become discouraged, angry, and frustrated.  We see injustice, abuse, and heart-breaking circumstances.  We sometimes disagree with each other and hurt one another’s feelings.  But there are also times we encourage, forgive and defer to one another.  We work as a team and do all we can to reach our primary goal.  I want to publicly thank all of the staff members in the Sherrard School District for their work. I consider it a privilege to work alongside such a talented and dedicated team.

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  • Multiple Choice Exam

    Posted by Alan Boucher on 4/29/2021

    It is time to begin making preparations for the fall.  The planning process feels like a multiple-choice exam.  

    Question 1 - What type of school day will it be? 
    A. Full remote
    B. Late start
    C. Full day
    D. None of the above
    We don't have enough information right now to confidently choose answers to all the questions.  All we can do is make plans that attend to our predictions about what the virus will do in the coming months.
    I believe the risk of virus transmission could be lower because of those who already had Covid and because of the number of individuals who will be vaccinated.  We hope the virus will not mutate in a way that will cause people to catch the virus a second time or mutate in a way that will render the vaccines ineffective.  Testing will probably become commonplace at school.  Currently, we test students who have symptoms.  I predict we will be testing healthy individuals in the future as a way of detecting virus transmission quickly before it spreads to others.
    Assuming the transmission risk will be low in the fall, the board stated that it intends to have full days of school five days a week during the 2021-2022 school year.  Families with documented medical conditions that prevent the students from attending will be allowed to learn remotely.
    I predict there will be some mitigation procedures in place next year, but I don't know which ones.  Perhaps we will not have to do the temperature and symptom checks.  It wouldn't surprise me if we still have to wear masks.  I would think that social distancing will still be a part of the guidelines along with extra cleaning.  I predict we will have normal athletic seasons, but the number of fans in attendance might be limited again.
    Question 2 - Will next year be awesome?
    A.  Absolutely
    B.  Absolutely
    C.  Absolutely
    D.  All of the Above
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