We are just a few days away from the one-year anniversary of all Illinois schools being closed due to COVID-19. We are happy to join many other area schools in returning to full days of instruction this week. This long-anticipated change took effect Monday, with about 83% of our students returning to campus. While we were on shortened days, about 60% of students attended school in person.
This certainly is not the end of our challenges, as we still await the easing of restrictions on social distancing, sizes of gatherings and quarantines. There is no indication of how long those restrictions will last, but one major step that many of our staff members have taken is to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Thanks to many amazing volunteers, MCHS hosted a series of Grundy County educators vaccine clinics for all interested school employees in our county. We will wrap up first-round doses this week and then finish the second doses just after spring break.
Our school board has patiently listened to concerns expressed by many citizens on both sides of the debate over our school’s mascot. This debate is hardly new, but it regained momentum in 2020 because of potential legislative action and media coverage about school mascots.
The board authorized me to establish a committee to bring together several members of our community to discuss this topic. As of this writing, 55 people have applied to be on the committee, which will include representation from several different groups. I appreciate that so many people are interested in this topic, and I look forward to the discussion. Those who are selected for the committee will be contacted via email before the end of March.
No matter where you stand on the issue of our mascot or the response to COVID-19, the one thing we all can agree on is what an amazing group of students we have at MCHS. Their enthusiasm, respectfulness and kindness contribute to their impressive accomplishments year after year.
One of our substitute teachers stopped me and our athletic director in the hallway about a week ago. He wanted us to know what great kids we have, how well behaved they are and how you can feel the positive energy when you enter our school. I was not surprised, as I have heard this said many times about our students throughout the years. But I never get tired of hearing it, and it means even more in a year such as this one.
We look forward to celebrating our students to the best extent possible as we plan for end-of-year events such as graduation. More information will be shared as we learn more about what will be possible.
• Craig R. Ortiz is superintendent of Morris Community High School District 101.
Source: The Daily Chronicle