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  • Fairbury News staff

District approves new phase

During a special meeting of the Prairie Central Board of Education Tuesday night, the group approved a new third phase of the district’s Return to Learn plan.

The new plan, with an official start date of October 26, has K-8 schools releasing an hour early and the high school two hours early for the remainder of the year or until a major change happens in the required safety measures for schools, according to Superintendent Paula Crane.

“The two-hour early release at the high school level would create a fifth block where band, choir and some art classes would be offered,” stated Crane. “Students that need transportation will wait for the one-hour early release buses, whereas students who have alternate means of transportation may leave campus.”

Those students waiting for a bus will be offered a study hall and additional help with school work.

Prairie Central expects to welcome back 131 remote learners, leaving around 190 students still learning remotely. Crane said the school strongly believes having students in front of teachers every day is the most effective way for them to learn, which is why they are spending so much time preparing for the new phase.

“It is hoped that the additional time without students will give teachers additional time to plan, collaborate and prepare given their additional workload,” Crane added.

Social distancing remains an issue as there is not enough space for all of the kids at the high school and the district is at limit in several grade levels as well. District leaders were faced with the decision of either having high school students attend school every other day or shortening the day so additional sections could be added while providing teachers the time to prepare for these courses.

Phase two of the plan starts after Columbus Day and runs for only a couple of weeks with a two-hour early dismissal before this new phase takes effect.

In other action at the special meeting, the board approved the Meadowbrook tank removal project at a cost of up to $50,000. The board was presented with a solid estimate and the work can begin soon since the measure has been authorized.

This week’s meeting was conducted in person and via Zoom.

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