Return to Learn

Arcola School District Return to Learning Plan for 2022-2023

                                                 Board Approved – August 10, 2022

As we approach the 2022-2023 school year, the Arcola School District understands that COVID-19 continues to affect the learning community.  In addition, the district understands that there are certain requirements under the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act. 

Funds are available to school districts through the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act.  This act requires that each school district has developed a Plan for Safe Return to In-Person Instruction and Continuity of Services.  Since there are a few minor changes from the 2021-2022 Return to Learning Plan adopted by the Board of Education on February 9, 2022, the Arcola School District will allow for public comment on the plan and post any changes to the district website for the 2022-2023 plan.

The original plan was developed in accordance with the ARP Act and the Illinois State Superintendent of Education declaration of July 9, 2021; is aligned with guidance provided by the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); and addresses adjustments needed in response to evolving COVID-19 pandemic circumstances.  This plan has been updated using the IPDH and ISBE Joint Guidance Summary document of CDC’s Operational Guidance for COVID-19 Prevention in Schools released in late June, 2022.

Together with local public health officials, school administrators should consider multiple factors when they make decisions about implementing layered prevention strategies against COVID-19. Since schools typically serve their surrounding communities, decisions should be based on the school population, families and students served, as well as their communities. The primary factors to consider include:

  • Level of community transmission of COVID-19.
  • COVID-19 vaccination coverage in the community and among students, teachers, and staff.
  • Possible use of a frequent SARS-CoV-2 screening testing program for students, teachers, and staff who are not fully vaccinated.
  • COVID-19 outbreaks or increasing trends in the school or surrounding community.
  • Ages of children served by K-12 schools and the associated social and behavioral factors that may affect risk of transmission and the feasibility of different prevention strategies.
  • Ability to maintain social distancing at various times throughout the school day.

***It is important to note that the district will continually be considering these factors.  Changes in local circumstances may cause a change in the plan requirements.

Section 1 - School Calendar, Schedule, In-Person-Remote Learning

  • All students are required to attend school in person during the 2022-2023 school year.   Remote learning can only occur for a student under two circumstances: 1) Permanent Remote Learning – this can only occur when a district team, which includes the parents/guardians, has determined that a student needs a full-time home accommodation due to a medical disability and 2) Temporary Remote Learning – this occurs when a non-vaccinated or vaccine ineligible student has been required to self-quarantine by the school, the CDC, IDPH, the local county health department or by a health care provider for a specific period of time. 
  • Families that need to request a medical accommodation for a Permanent Remote Learning placement must contact either Megan Clark, Arcola Elementary Assistant Principal (Grades PreK – Grade 6) or Amber Behrends, Arcola Junior High – High School Assistant Principal (Grades 7 – 12) at    
  • Families that need to request a Temporary Remote Learning option due to a quarantine must communicate with the school district nurse, Debbie Stenger,
  • Arcola Junior-Senior High School will use Google Classroom as the main online platform with in person and remote learning students. Teachers/students in Grades PreK-3 will use SeeSaw and the teachers/students in grades 4-6 will use Google Classroom as the online platform. 
  • Remote students at grades 3 – 12 will be required to live stream into the classroom during the school day unless excused (Excused absence must be communicated to the school).  Students in Grades K – 2 will be required to complete posted assignments and instructional videos for the day.
  • Students that do not have Internet access at home can obtain a Verizon Hotspot from the school district free of charge by contacting Jill Hohlbauch at or 217-268-4963.  Families will be required to complete a request form and usage will be monitored.

Section 2 – Mitigation Strategies and Transmission Levels

Mitigation Strategies

The Arcola School District continues to implement layered COVID mitigation strategies.  The mitigation strategies available include:

Tier I Strategies

  • Wide availability for the Covid-19 vaccination.
  • On-going consultation with the Douglas County Health Department.
  • Employment of additional health services staff to assist with monitoring potential Covid cases to minimize unnecessary exposure.
  • Over 75% of the adult staff members working in the school are vaccinated.
  • Handwashing and respiratory etiquette.
  • Cleaning and maintaining healthy facilities.
  • Staff and students must stay home when they are experiencing Covid like symptoms or illness.
  • Symptomatic individuals should receive a negative test in order to return to school.
  • The nursing staff will provide rapid diagnostic testing at school for symptomatic students (as long as supplies remain available) and with parent/guardian permission.
  • Physical distancing when possible.
  • Increased requirement for social distancing.
  • Recommended mask wearing for all individuals indoors.
  • Recommended mask wearing on bus transportation.
  • Covid positive cases and close contacts must quarantine based on IDPH/ISBE requirements
  • Test to stay protocol used for close contacts on school based exposures.
  • Required negative test result before returning to school after a close contact exposure in or outside of the school setting.
  • Required Mask Wearing in situations or for all students and staff.

Tier II Strategies

Transmission Rate

The Arcola School District will continue to monitor local data including the following:

  • Internal Positivity Rate – Number of cases reported to the district from Saturday through the end of the day on Friday divided by total number of students/staff.
  • Internal Positivity Test Rate – Number of individuals that test positive by the Arcola School District nurse’s office during a 7- day period divided by the number of tests given. Calculated Saturday through Friday as well. 
  • Douglas County Positivity Rate – Number of individuals that have tested positive over last 7-day period divided by case per 100,000 people.

The district will consider two transmission levels using the internal positivity rate. 

  • Level 1 Transmission Rate – this occurs when the school district internal positivity rate is below 5%.  In Level 1, the districts will implement Mitigation Strategies 1 – 10.
  • Level 2 Transmission Rate – this occurs when the school district internal positivity rate goes above 5%.  In the event the district moves into Level 2 transmission rates, the school board will reconvene to consider whether or not to implement Mitigation Strategies 11 – 17.


Section 3 – Health and Safety Protocols Used in Level 1 Transmission

Hand Washing and Respiratory Etiquette

  • People should practice hand washing and respiratory etiquette (covering coughs and sneezes) to keep from getting and spreading infectious illnesses including COVID-19. Schools can monitor and reinforce these behaviors and provide adequate hand washing supplies.
    • Teach and reinforce hand washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
    • Remind everyone in the facility to wash hands frequently and assist young children with hand washing.

Mask Use

  • Wearing a well-fitting mask consistently and correctly reduces the risk of spreading the virus that causes COVID-19. Universal indoor mask use and use on bus transportation is recommended at a high COVID-19 Community Level ads defined by the CDC.
  • In general, people do not need to wear masks when outdoors. However, particularly in areas of substantial to high transmission, CDC recommends that people who are not fully vaccinated wear a mask in crowded outdoor settings or during activities that involve sustained close contact with other people who are not fully vaccinated.
  • School staff members are to model support for and encourage students to be supportive of people who continue to wear a mask as a personal choice or because of a personal medical reason.

Physical Distancing

  • It is recommended that the decision regarding social distancing be aligned with the instructional objective of the activity. Unless dictated by the instructional activity and when possible, it is recommended that district staff maintain 3 feet of social distancing for all students.  This may include the need to remove furniture and other materials as much as possible without negatively impacting the quality of instruction.
  • School staff will maximize physical distance as much as possible when moving through food service lines and while eating indoors.  Aside from the cafeteria, additional spaces for mealtime seating will be utilized when available and feasible (e.g., weather permitting). 
  • Physical distancing measures are to be done in an equitable manner that does not perpetuate academic, racial, or other tracking (e.g., separating people into fully vaccinated and non-fully vaccinated cohorts).

Health Protocols

  • All students, staff and visitors should self-screen for temperature and covid-symptoms before entering school buildings.
  • Staff or students who have symptoms of infectious illness, such as influenza (flu) or COVID-19, should stay home and contact their healthcare provider for testing and care. Parents may contact the school district nurse’s office and bring a student to school for rapid testing (if test supplies allow for testing to occur). Students staying home from school due to covid-symptoms will need to provide a negative test result or alternative diagnosis from a physician before returning to school.  Before returning to school, individuals must be fever-free for 24 hours (without fever-reducing medication), vomiting and diarrhea have ceased for 24 hours, AND improvement of other symptoms.
  • If a student is exhibiting symptoms or communicating symptoms in the classroom, the student should be sent to nurse’s office and the nurse will make the decision whether or not to test. Students (with parent/guardian permission) can be tested at school by the school nurse. The student may receive a negative test result from a testing site or an alternative diagnosis from a physician before returning to school.  If negative, individuals can remain at school as long as they are fever-free for 24 hours (without fever-reducing medication) and all vomiting and diarrhea have ceased for 24 hours. 
  • Individuals who test positive for COVID-19 will receive communication from the Illinois Department of Public Health regarding isolation and quarantine information.  Students will need to remain home from school for Full 5 Days from the onset of symptoms or from the positive test result.  It is recommended that returning students wear a well-fitting mask around others until day 10 (day 6-10). 
  • Upon identifying a case of COVID-19 in school, school staff may conduct contact tracing and notify those persons or parents of students who are a close contact of an infected person.  The school will not exclude close contacts in any covid-19 case from school.

Section 4 – Cleaning Protocols

  • Cleaning will need to be the responsibility of all adults in the building.
  • Frequently touched surfaces (e.g., door handles/knobs, desktops/tabletops, countertops, light switches, pencil sharpeners, computer keyboards, hands-on learning items, phones, toys, cubbies/coat and backpack areas, sinks and faucets, buses/vans) will be cleaned multiple times a day.
  • Bathrooms will be cleaned throughout the day by custodians based on a schedule.
  • Elementary, JH and High School classrooms will be deep cleaned after students are dismissed from school by the district custodial staff.
  • Only EPA-approved disinfectants will be used against the coronavirus.

Section 5 – ESSR III Spending Plan

The Return to School Plan highlighted above provides a detailed description of the district plan that is being used to implement prevention and mitigation strategies consistent with CDC guidelines. 

The following is a description on the how the school district is using the ARP ESSR Funds to support the district in following those guidelines and prevention measures. 

This includes:

  • Additional stipends and benefits for staff to ensure implementation
  • Air quality improvements
  • Staff for additional medical care
  • Classroom Furniture to allow for adequate spacing
  • Outdoor tent rental for alternative site in open air setting
  • Funds for snack breaks to allow for mask breaks during the day
  • Sanitation Supplies

The following are activities that are being funded by the ARP ESSER Funds to address the impact of lost instructional time and how the district will meet the social, emotional, mental health and academic needs of all students.

These activities include:

  • Salaries and Benefits for additional intervention teacher, additional classroom teacher to maintain small class sizes and additional Bilingual/EL teacher to provide additional language support
  • Salaries and Benefits for both summer school and after school tutoring services
  • Bus Transportation for after school and summer school tutoring
  • Employee Assistance program to support staff
  • Salary for additional social work support for students
  • Additional technology resources and connectivity to provide equity to all students