A Back-to-School Message from Dr. McAlister
August 18, 2022
Dear 153 families,
It is with great anticipation that I write to you as we look forward to the start of the 2022/2023 school year. Attached are a few items of interest to start the year.
We are very excited to welcome back our students! The first day of school for students is Wednesday, August 24. We still have families who have not completed the registration process in full; please know that your student(s) cannot attend school until we have all of the necessary registration, health, and residency forms. Students who are not fully registered as of today may not be able to attend school on day one. You will receive an e-mail notification once your student registration is finalized.
Throughout summer, all three buildings have been under construction as we add new Univent systems in a majority of our classrooms. Furthermore, Churchill School broke ground on a two-classroom addition on the Center Street side that will be ready in early 2023. And Willow School now has a modular unit on the north side of the building.
We are very excited about these improvements and the positive impact they will have on students and staff. However, construction delays have us finishing up work even as you receive this letter. Please know that our buildings will be safe and clean for the start of school, but they may not have their usual "shine" as we were not able to wax everything that we would in a typical year.
School COVID Update
The CDC released updated Back-to-School guidance on Thursday, August 11. Among the biggest changes from last year:
- SHIELD testing as a general screening test to identify asymptomatic people is no longer recommended except during periods of high transmission. Since we are not able to start and stop SHIELD whenever we want, we will continue to SHIELD test all students unless we receive a signed opt-out form. We will monitor our positivity rates over the first few months to determine if this testing should be continued.
- There are no more "close contacts" to positive cases. The only students who must isolate are positive cases themselves.
- There is no more contact tracing since there are no more close contacts.
- In summary, the new guidance no longer recommends a great majority of the mitigations from last year. The best advice is to monitor your child for symptoms each day and keep them home if they do not feel well.
Brown bag lunches will be served at least to begin the school year. A variety of factors from supply chain to staffing issues make hot lunches impossible right now. As you know, the federal COVID-relief free lunch program has expired. Students must bring a lunch from home or pay for a school lunch.
Let's Celebrate the Return to School!
Please join us as we host a Back-to-School Family Reunion on Saturday, August 27, from 3:30-6 PM in the Sports Complex Parking Lot. There will be over 30 organizations on site to welcome you back. Food vendors will also be available. Click here for more details.
We look forward to seeing all of our students for the first day of school on Wednesday, August 24. Welcome back!
Scott McAlister, Ed.D.
Homewood School District #153
Return to School Plans
2022-2023 Return to School Plan
SHIELD Testing Resumes Week of September 4th
*VIDEO* Expectations re: Student Devices
School Bus Information
August 8, 2022
This is an important message regarding bus service for the upcoming 2022-23 school year.
The District solicited bids for this year's student transportation service and again selected Kickert School Bus as its service provider. Kickert was the only bidder. Other bus companies that are also struggling with driver shortages declined to bid. Due to the continuing national bus driver shortage, Kickert and their competitors are still unable to provide the number of buses needed to serve District 153 students as it did pre-COVID.
This year, James Hart and Churchill Schools will have six routes each, instead of the eight routes we have traditionally run prior to COVID. This configuration resulted in frequent late buses last year, but we were able to get students to school safely.
Willow School again will have four bus routes to serve bus riders instead of seven. This will mean three students to a seat and longer bus rides to cover the entire school district.
We wanted you to have this information as you make plans for your family this school year. We encourage you to make alternate plans for transporting your student to school, if possible. If your transportation plans do change, please contact the District Office, Transportation Department by calling 708-922-2411.
It will be very important for students to be waiting at the bus stop on time or before to ensure that buses can get them to school as quickly as possible. Waiting buses are going to be late buses, so please help us get our students to school on time.
As always, we sincerely appreciate the incredible flexibility and understanding all of you have shown during the last three very challenging years. Please know that we are working hard to improve our service and will not stop until we are back to our pre-pandemic levels of service.
Dr. John Gibson
Chief School Business Official