Morris High School board hears vaccine update

Staff will be in Phase 1b of vaccination plan

MORRIS – The Morris Community High School District 101 board met Monday night and heard an update about the county’s COVID-19 vaccination plan.

Superintendent Craig Ortiz said school staff members are considered essential front-line workers and will be included in Phase 1b of the vaccination plan. Grundy County currently is administering Phase 1a of the plan.

“The Grundy County Health Department is coordinating with all the schools in the county,” Ortiz said. “As of now, we have 93 of around 140 staff that are interested in getting the vaccine. That includes substitute teachers, outside coaches, anyone that will come in contact with students.

“We are just waiting on the health department and [Illinois Department of Public Health] to say when we can get started. We hope it is in the next two to three weeks.”

Ortiz also said the board discussed the district’s hybrid learning plan and how it may look in the future. Currently, half of the school’s students attend school in person for half day every other day, with e-learning taking place on the days the students are not in physical attendance at the school.

“Right now, we are in an A/B rotation,” Ortiz said. “We hope that by February, we will be able to drop that rotation and bring the kids every day. With the amount of people we have opting out of in-person [instruction], we should be able to have our class sizes accommodate that.

“Then, in March, we hope to go full days. Hopefully by then, the vaccine rollout will be well underway and our staff will be vaccinated so we can have full days of school.”

The board also set the Class of 2021 graduation date to May 21.

“That date will be pretty firm,” Ortiz said. “If we have to have a snow day or two, we are set up to have e-learning days for that, so the graduation date won’t change. Unfortunately, we don’t know how things will be in May, so we can’t say if we are going to have an in-person ceremony or not.”

Ortiz said 38% of students currently have opted for fully remote learning, and that number will remain for the entire quarter. Students will be able to opt in to in-person learning at the start of the fourth quarter.

The board also approved a request to extend limited COVID-19 administrative leave for certain qualifying reasons through March 31 and approved a resolution to seek bids for repairing the cracks in the tennis courts and resurfacing.

Rob Oesterle

Rob has been a sports writer for the Morris Herald-News and Joliet Herald-News for more than 20 years. He is currently also writing news for the Morris Herald-News.