river bend school board, jane orman-luker, dan portz, superintendent darryl hogue

River Bend Superintendent Darryl Hogue, right, speaks to school board members in this November 2019 file photo. The District is in the process of creating policies and procedures for the fall based on guidelines from the office of the Illinois governor.

FULTON, Ill. — Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker gave some insight Tuesday as to how the fall school semester will look. Pritzker announced that schools, including junior colleges and universities, can return to in-person sessions this coming semester

Guidance from the governor’s about how to safely return to class includes social distancing, frequent cleaning and being prepared to return to learning online if a resurgence of the coronavirus comes in the fall.

Carmen Ayala, Illinois State Board of Education Superintendent, said school districts across the state will be able to implement the guidance based on their enrollment and size.

“Reopening in Southern Illinois is not the same as suburban or urban Illinois,” Ayala said. “As much as possible, we have tried to provide common and clear requirements, while preserving flexibility for each school and district to develop a reopening plan that meets the needs of the community and the children that they serve.”

River Bend School District which serves Fulton and surrounding communities is doing that. Superintendent Darryl Hogue said that the school board approved an e-learning pilot program a year ago which helped prepared them to go from the normal classroom setting to a digital platform, as they did during the pandemic.

Hogue said he plans to meet with the Return to Learn planning team to figure out how the fall semester will look like for the district.

“I have a vision of it, but we really need to flush that out with our team and our teachers,” Hogue said. “I imagine it is going to be a hybrid model of some sort, but what exactly that looks like, again just having received the 60 pages of requirements or guidelines, we have to sort that out.”

Being a district that serves roughly 1,000 students gives River Bend an advantage over larger districts, Hogue said. Being a smaller district makes communicating with the teachers and families easier so everyone can be im one accord.

“I love our small district,” Hogue said. “And, I love how nimble we can be. So, I believe we can be nimble, and we can be flexible, and we can be creative, given our smaller number of students to serve,” he said.

“And we can incorporate our families to a degree when you are communicating around 1,000 families and students, that’s a lot easier than 3,000, 5,000, or 10,000.”

Hogue said the district is grateful for its size and has to worry about only four buildings to piece together plans: a pre-school, an elementary school, a middle school and a high school.

The district has a close working relationship between the teachers and students and their families, which makes the process smoother as well, Hogue said.

The return-to-learn planning team will meet this week to start outlining procedures for River Bend School District, Hogue said.