Rock Falls High School approves return-to-school plan

Ron McCord, superintendent, provides a rundown of the COVID-19 return-to-school plan on July 20 at Rock Falls High School. Merle Gaulrapp, board president, listens.

ROCK FALLS — Rock Falls High School revised its return-to-school plan as required by provisions to receive federal COVID-19 recovery funds.

Students will not be required to wear masks during the school year, Superintendent Ron McCord said during the July 20 meeting of the board of education.

However, the plan does include mitigations that will go into effect depending on the rate of transmission in the community or in the school itself.

These mitigations align with those established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Illinois State Board of Education, McCord said.

After some discussion, the board approved the revised plan with a 7-0 vote.

One of the mitigations the school will use is maintaining the three-foot rule for social distancing, when feasible.

There will also be an emphasis on students practicing respiratory etiquette, sneezing into sleeves and proper handwashing, for instance.

As for masks, when community transmission rates reach high levels as determined by state, local or federal health agencies, the school will change its mask stance from “optional” to “optional but recommended.”

McCord told the board the school nurse will track contact tracing and report to the appropriate state agency. Rapid test results will be reported to the state daily.

McCord said the district will promote vaccination, but there will no longer be an on-site clinic because the vaccines and boosters are readily available. He said should the situation change, the school would cooperate with the Whiteside County Health Department.

Board member Matthew Lillpop asked what percentage of the student body was vaccinated.

Principal Mike Berentes said it was too early to have that information. “We’ll have a better idea shortly after the start of school,” he answered. Disclosure of COVID-19 vaccination status appears similar to last year, when it was done on a voluntary basis.

Troy Taylor

Troy E. Taylor

Was named editor for and the Gazette and Telegraph in 2021. An Illinois native, he has been a reporter or editor in daily newspapers since 1989.