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Hilltop Return to School Plan
Hilltop Return to School Plan
Fredrick Lamkey
Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Hilltop Return to School Plan

August 17, 2020

Presented to the MPCUSD 23 Board of Education through work by:

MPCUSD 23 Transition Planning Team

MPCUSD 23 District Leadership Team

MPHS Building Leadership Team

MPGS Building Leadership Team

MPCUSD 23 Administration

Inspire – Engage – Empower

Our vision is to be an innovative, high-performing community that produces globally-minded, influential citizens.

Our mission is to engage and inspire students to become mindful and productive citizens promoting growth and success for all.

Mount Pulaski believes…….

  • Student-centered decision making is our top priority.
  • All people will feel safe, welcomed and valued in our schools.
  • Integrity, diversity and respect for all are imperative.
  • Students will be challenged by rigorous curriculum and instruction.
  • A strong partnership among parents, community and school is essential.
  • Parent involvement is critical to student success.
  • Opportunities and encouragement for continuous improvement are integral for success.

These statements were designed by a team representing parents, school board members, students, administrators and teachers to define what beliefs will guide our work, what defines our existence and who we aspire to be.

The Hilltop Return to School Plan is designed to embody this design even in a time our community must adjust our systems and adapt practices in a manner that puts others first to ensure safety and success for all.

The Hilltop Return to School Plan was created in a multi-faceted manner that included parents, students, health officials, board members, administrators, teachers, maintenance staff, transportation staff and district support staff.  The guidelines for starting the 2020-21 schools year plan are very extensive in scope, making it impossible for just an administrative team to tackle.  Mt. Pulaski Schools empower stakeholders with varying expertise to create and execute the Hilltop Return to School Plan.

Mt. Pulaski CUSD 23 designed the Hilltop Return to School Plan based on the guidance provided by the Restore Illinois Plan and the Illinois Return to School Plan for 2020-21.   


Level of Student Instruction and Activity

1 and 2

Schools are closed and all in person activities are canceled.  All instruction will be conducted through remote instruction with students being fully accountable for quality of work.


Schools will open with restrictions limiting group sizes to under 10 participants, social distancing and masks required.  Groups will be invitation only and reserved for special needs students.  Most instruction will be conducted through remote learning with students being fully accountable for quality of work.


Schools will open with restrictions limiting group sizes to under 50 participants, social distancing and masks required.  Instruction will be a combination of in-person and remote instruction with students being fully accountable for quality of work.  Some school activities and events may be allowed on a case-by-case basis under the guidance of the Illinois School Board Association and the Illinois Department of Public Health.


Schools will fully reopen with no limits on group sizes, reduced social distancing, and no masks required.  Instruction will be in-person and returned to full day.  All activities and events will be reinstated.


Mt. Pulaski Schools will make decisions about student instruction and activity participation based on Region 3 phase designations.  If health circumstances arise, specifically in our community, the district office will collaborate with the Logan County Health Department to determine plans for student instruction and activity participation.


  • Health MonitoringSystems of self-certification, random symptom checks and temperature monitoring will help identify those who do not feel well so they may recover at home.
  • Clean EnvironmentAll staff will participate in identifying high-touch areas and conduct best practices in cleaning and sanitization in our schools, busses, vans and supplemental areas.
  • Plan of MaintenanceDevelop systems to monitor the health of stakeholders within the district, offer transparent communication and adjust practices as necessary while upholding respect for individual privacy and safety.
  • InstructionConduct and maintain best practices that allow for fluid transitions between in-person and remote instruction while upholding high quality standards and implementing student and staff accountability.
    • Self-CertificationFamilies and staff can check their symptoms and temperatures at home, self-certifying before their arrival at school.  This will go a long way to simplify the start of every school day.
    • Health MonitoringSchools will check temperatures of students and staff who do not self-certify upon arrival to school.  Schools will also conduct random symptom checks of all students.  Families should communicate illness and symptoms with the nurse so the district can better serve our students and staff.
    • MasksAll staff and students must wear masks 100% of the time they are at school regardless of social distancing, being inside of a building, being outside of a building, or in a vehicle.  Students or staff members who have physical limitations or an inability to wear masks will be enrolled or work in remote instruction as the school can accommodate.  Masks will be much easier for our students to wear if adults encourage their use and model the behavior.  The school district will supply two washable masks to every student and staff member in the district.
    • Social DistancingAll classes are designed to maintain appropriate social distancing.  In addition, directives and reminders will be placed throughout the schools to help students and staff focus on expectations.  Families can work on concepts of social distancing at home by identifying things that are six feet away.
    • Hand Washing and HygieneAll good hygiene will be constantly reinforced with all stakeholders to reduce the opportunity of infection.  This practice should be reinforced at home.
    • Supporting District Decisions – Even when we have varying opinions, it is important for the well-being of our community and students to support the decisions that will keep everyone safe.  MPCUSD 23 appreciates your support!

What we can do together

Instructional choices

Mt. Pulaski Schools recognize that families have challenging decisions in their future with many factors to consider.  Students will be offered a plan that allows in-person instruction with daily remote instruction or remote instruction only.  

The district will strive to provide secure and reliable internet access to families that do not have such capabilities.  This will ensure equal opportunity for all students to successfully participate in remote instruction. 

In-person and remote instruction will have equal accountability.  Attendance expectations will be enforced whether students are in physical attendance or participating remotely. 

Student work will be assessed equally whether conducted in-person or remotely.  Incomplete work will receive a grade of zero.  These assessments will apply to graduation requirements, promotion requirements and student eligibility for extra-curricular activities.


In-person and remote instruction will take place each day the calendar indicates school is in session.  Schedules will vary from grade school to high school:

  • PreK – Will still conduct a morning class and an afternoon class.
  • Grades K-5 – In-person instruction will focus on reading, writing and math with science and social studies blended into instruction.  Afternoon remote instruction will be reserved for electives (PE, Art, Fine Arts) and individual and group work as necessary.
  • Grades 6-12 – In-person instruction will be divided into Odd and Even days.  On Odd days, hours 1, 3, 5 and 7 will meet in-person in the morning.  On Even days, classes 2, 4, 6, and 8 will meet in the mornings.  Remote afternoon instruction conducted from 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM will be an extension of the morning in-person instruction.  Specific schedules will be extended to students and their families prior to the start of school.

In an attempt to accommodate all families, Mt. Pulaski Board of Education eliminated the $50 Personalized Learning Initiative fee so that all students in grades K-12 have at home access to iPads.  In addition, the district will provide hot spots to families that do not have internet capabilities. 

PreK: All PreK instruction will be 100% in-person.  In the event circumstances require a shift to remote instruction, PreK tuition-based student classes will be cancelled and tuition will be refunded.

K-Grade 2 Remote Instruction: Elective teachers (PE, Music, Art) will offer afternoon instruction to students while teachers will be readily available through SeeSaw and Zoom for students to ask questions or seek help between the hours of 1:00 PM and 3:00 PM daily.

Grade 3-5 Remote Instruction: Elective teachers (PE, Music, Art) will offer afternoon instruction to students while teachers will be readily available through Google Classroom for students to ask questions or seek help between the hours of 1:00 PM and 3:00 PM daily.

Grade 6-8 Remote Instruction: Teachers will be available via Google Classroom for students to ask questions or seek help between the hours of 1:00 PM and 3:00 PM daily.  Students will be working on extension activities from the morning session with online assistance from the teachers.

Grade 9-12 Remote Instruction: After in-person instruction, the afternoon will be a continuation of morning classes in half hour increments.  Teachers will be available in specific time slots for specific instruction or for individual or small group student help.  Mandatory remote instruction sessions will count toward a student’s daily attendance held in accordance with student handbook expectations.


PreK: No remote instruction for tuition-based students.

K-Grade 8: Students will have daily contact with their instructors from 8-11:30am and from 1-3pm.  Instruction will be monitored by a classroom teacher.

Grade 9-12 Remote Instruction: Students who choose to participate in the remote-instruction only option will follow the same instructional schedule as students who participate in the in-person/remote instruction option.  Some methods of instruction may include: students using their iPads to attend classes live via Google Meet or Students using their iPads to watch pre-recorded lessons.  Mandatory remote instruction sessions will count toward a student’s daily attendance held in accordance with student handbook expectations.

All students will be held accountable for assessments in the same manner regardless of whether they are conducted through in-person instruction or remote instruction.  Failure to complete an assignment or assessment will result in a grade of zero.

Registration and Enrollment






August 20th

3:00 PM – 8:00PM



August 21st

3:00 PM – 8:00PM



August 22nd

9:00 AM – 1:00 PM



All registrants will enter through the grade school front door and exit through designated doors.  Masks will be required.  Only one adult per family is needed for registration.  Please do not allow your students to attend registration.  Board approved registration fees will apply.



PreK Morning



Grade School

High School



Bus Drop Off

7:40 AM

11:20 AM

7:40 AM

7:40 AM


Walkers and Car-Riders

7:50 AM

11:20 AM

7:40 AM

7:40 AM


In-person and Remote Instruction Starts

7:58 AM


7:58 AM

8:02 AM

8:02 AM

Bus, Pickup and Walkers Depart/Remote Instruction Ends


1:30 PM

11:30 AM


11:34 AM

Remote Instruction Starts



1:00 PM

1:00 PM

1:00 PM

Remote Instruction Ends



3:00 PM

3:00 PM

3:00 PM

 Attendance expectations

Regular attendance requirements will be enforced for all students.  Attendance will be taken for morning and afternoon instruction.  Students will be required to be in attendance, complete all assignments and maintain passing grades to receive credit for classes in addition to prescribed district attendance rules. 


Self-certification is the process in which families check their symptoms and temperatures at home self-certifying that the students are symptom free before their arrival at school.  If the individual has any symptoms listed below, but has not had potential exposure to COVID-19, they will be excused from school in accordance with existing school illness handbook guidelines (e.g., until symptom-free for 24 hours without fever reducing medications).  Please refer to the district COVID-19 Isolation, Quarantine and Return to School Guidance for more detailed information.

Fever of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit



New loss of taste or smell


Sore throat

Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

Congestion or runny nose


Nausea or vomiting

Muscle or body aches


School bus riders should sign self-certification documents before being allowed to use school transportation.  This will allow bus drivers to focus on the safe and timely transportation of students to and from school.


Mt. Pulaski Schools will follow all guidelines set forth in the Illinois Starting the School Year Plan for 2020-21. The district encourages families to provide transportation for their students when possible to reduce contact with others.  All individuals on a bus must wear a face covering, no more than 50 individuals should be on a bus at one time, and social distancing must be maintained to the greatest extent possible.  Mt. Pulaski students should undergo self-certification, before boarding a bus.

Drivers and monitors must wear approved and appropriate PPE and perform regular hand hygiene. They must also undergo symptom and temperature checks or self-certify to verify that they are free of symptoms before the start of each workday. Drivers and monitors who have a temperature greater than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or symptoms of COVID-19 may not work.

Student transportation should apply the most feasible social distancing guidelines. The CDC recommends that entities should “create distance between children on school buses …when possible.”

Seating charts will be used to congregate family members and limit contact with other students while being transported to school.  Each bus will be supplied with hand sanitizer, tissues and waste receptacles to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Sanitization will be completed daily and between uses on all vehicles used for student transportation. Mt. Pulaski staff will clean and disinfect vehicles using only products that meet the CDC, EPA criteria and manufacturers’ guidelines.

Entering buildings on school days

  • Only students and staff will be allowed into school buildings.  Families and guardians must call the school office for permission to enter the building.  All non-instructional visitors will be restricted to school offices only.
  • Parents are encouraged to transport students to school when possible and also self-certify that students are free of fever (100.4 degrees F) and symptoms.
  • MPGS Bus Drop Off and Pick Up will be at the traditional location on Scott Street.
  • MPGS Student Drop Off will be at the traditional location on Garden Street.  Parents and guardians must wait in the vehicle drop off line for district personnel to confirm self–certification or perform student symptom screening.
  • MPHS Bus Rider and Student Drop Off will be at the traditional location on Spring Street.  District staff will be at the front doors to confirm the student’s self-certification or perform student symptom screening.
  • Student Drivers will park in the west parking lot and enter school in their traditional manner through the southwest entrance.  District staff will be at the southwest doors to confirm the student’s self-certification or perform student symptom screening.

Students who have a temperature or identifiable symptoms will be escorted to a quarantine room to receive medical attention and contact parents or guardians.  Students who are symptom-free will continue to their first classroom.

Staying healthy

Based on available evidence, most children do not appear to be at higher risk for COVID-19 than adults. While some children and infants have been sick with COVID-19, adults make up most of the known cases to date.

At school temperature and symptom screening

All families will be encouraged to self-certify their students are symptom free at home, but those who cannot will be screened before being allowed to enter their classrooms.  Self-certified students will have a sticker on their mask placed by their parents or guardians after checking for a temperature below 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit.  Self-certified students will be allowed to go directly to class while non-certified students will go through a screening process to determine temperature and symptom status.  The district will also conduct random screenings of self-certified and non-certified students to ensure practices are valid.

Watch your child for any signs of COVID-19 illness

COVID-19 can look different in different people. For many people, being sick with COVID-19 would be a little bit like having the flu. People can get a fever, cough, or have a hard time taking deep breaths. Most people who have gotten COVID-19 have not gotten very sick. Only a small group of people who get it have had more serious problems.

CDC and partners are investigating cases of multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) associated with COVID-19. Learn more about COVID-19 and multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C).

Keep children healthy

  • Parents and caretakers play an important role in teaching children to wash their hands. Explain that hand washing can keep them healthy and stop the virus from spreading to others.
  • Be a good role model—if you wash your hands often, they’re more likely to do the same.
  • Make hand washing a family activity.
  • Learn more about what you can do to protect children.

Help your child stay socially connected

Watch for Signs of Stress

  • Excessive worry or sadness
  • Unhealthy eating habits
  • Unhealthy sleeping habits
  • Difficulty with attention and concentration

Support your child

Social Emotional Support at School

·         Grade school students in elementary classes will receive social-emotional instruction to deal with the stresses of the pandemic.  

·         Junior high students will meet with the school counselor for individual needs.  Small group counseling will take place during study halls. 

·         High school students will also have the opportunity to meet individually with the counselor or talk on Google Meets.  The high school counselor also plans to create videos that students can watch during their 8th hour study hall.

·         Tri County Special Education Association will also support both buildings through the work of psychologists and social workers.

Breakfast and lunch

Breakfast and lunch will not be served at school; instead they will be packed for students daily and distributed to them prior to dismissal at 11:30 AM.  All students who qualify for free meals will automatically receive lunch and breakfast.  Any family requesting meals will do so at registration and will pay reduced or full-price rates.  Students will receive the next day’s breakfast with their lunches each day.  Remote instruction-only families pick up breakfast and lunches at the school daily.



Mt. Pulaski Schools have developed best practices based on the CDC guidelines for the cleaning and disinfecting of community facilities.  These guidelines include daily cleaning, cleaning after potential virus detection and the use of personal protective equipment.

In addition to traditional cleaning and disinfecting, the district will also conduct frequent cleaning of high-touch areas in classrooms, hallways, restrooms and offices.  The district will use CDC approved Hypochlorus (HOCI) as our frequent use cleaner.  HOCI, which is composed of 99.5% water and .5% HOCI, is non-toxic to the skin, surface and clothing.  It is misted on surfaces and is immediately student-safe and disinfects high-touch areas in 30-60 seconds.  Studies have found it to be stronger than bleach when disinfecting surfaces.

Buses will also receive daily cleaning and disinfecting as well as cleaning and disinfecting between routes.  Hypochlorus will also be used in the frequent cleaning and disinfecting of all student transportation.


School activities will follow Restore Illinois guidelines when possible or devise alternative activities to replace traditional ones.  While in Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois Plan, gatherings of no more than 50 people will be allowed with mandatory face coverings and social distancing required.  Mt. Pulaski Schools will avoid gatherings except for those that promote student-only participation.  If Mt. Pulaski’s region is in Phase 1, 2 or 3, there will be no activities.

Back to School Activities

  • MPGS will distribute a Virtual Open House video that will allow students to become familiar with school expectations, new and old.
  • MPGS teachers will introduce themselves and offer their students a virtual tour of their classroom.  This video will be aired the weekend prior to the start of school on September 8th.
  • MPHS Student Council will create and distribute a “Welcome Back” video for students to be aired the week of August 31st.  The video will allow students to see the newly renovated high school as well as new procedures that students need to follow this upcoming school year.
  • MPHS freshmen will have the opportunity to visit the high school. Freshmen will be divided into four groups.  Each group will be assigned a day to visit the high school when they come to registration. The group visits will begin at 2:00pm on September 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th.  Students will be given their date at registration.


Due to the ever-changing environment of the pandemic, extra-curricular activities are constantly adapting and altering plans.  Mt. Pulaski is currently in Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois Plan and as of August 17th, the following allowances for athletics are in effect:

High School Fall Sports: Volleyball, Football and Cheerleading have been postponed until the spring semester, but the Illinois High School Association does plan to conduct these activities with abbreviated seasons.  Golf season will have an abbreviated schedule this fall.

Junior High School Sports: Baseball and Softball will play abbreviated seasons. 

All other sports seasons are tentatively set to occur in proximity to their season until new plans unfold.  It is safe to say these plans may change several times before seasons take place.   Building administrators and the athletic director will keep all athletes and their families posted on guideline and season changes.  If Mt. Pulaski’s region is in Phase 1, 2 or 3, there will be no athletics or other in-person activities.

June Survey Results

In June we surveyed families to see what your thoughts were concerning the upcoming school year.  The results were as follows:

  • 203 participants
  • If CDC guidelines allow students to return to the building in September, will you be sending your child (children) to school?    99% yes
  • Would you attend an in-person or digital training session later this summer on our plan for the 2020-21 school year and what your role as a parent will be in supporting your child’s success?      95% yes
  • Do you have internet access at home for your student(s) to use for school work?   95% yes
  • Do you or your child (children) have any specific needs for remote learning (e.g. slow internet access, resources, etc.) that we can help address?    90% no

The survey revealed that families are overwhelmingly supportive of reopening school!  The school district will work to problems-solve the circumstances that will hinder our students’ progress and well-being. MPCUSD 23 is also dedicated to being transparent through this process by consistently communicating with stakeholders, being thoughtful of community concerns and making student-centered decisions our top priority.


I realize the hardship this pandemic has placed on all families, with some being more harshly affected than others.  I also understand that no single plan will be good for all stakeholders.  Our goal in planning was to establish student-centered decision making as our top priority.   Our work this fall must be successful. Students will continue to achieve and grow as they are provided valuable instruction.  Teachers will balance a completely new system of preparing for school, while instructing students and inspiring student learning.  We are creating a new foundation for how learning takes place in Mt. Pulaski.  It is important to focus not on the quantity of instruction, rather the quality, so that our foundation may be stronger moving forward.

I am certain that our students and teachers are growing and improving in ways we could not imagine before March 13, 2020.  MPCUSD 23 is committed to being transparent in our practices as we continue to communicate and make adjustments in our systems so that we can challenge our students with rigorous curriculum and instruction while we also offer our students and staff opportunities for continuous improvement in these changing times.

On behalf of the Board of Education, Administration, Staff and Students of Mt. Pulaski, I thank you for your trust, continued flexibility, support and understanding.  We are living through a difficult era, but together we can adapt, improve, overcome and prosper in these challenging times.  Mask up, wash up and keep the distance.

Fredrick A Lamkey, Mt. Pulaski Superintendent