Gearing up for Back to School in Marshall, Illinois

The summer is winding down, and school will be starting in Illinois before we know it. We are enjoying our last hot days at the town pool and the band concerts at the pavilion. School supplies and new clothes are being bought and organized. Trips to the Walmart or office supply stores mean getting all the things on the school class list.

Back To Illinois School

For some people, buying all the necessary items is affordable. For others a stretch. But for many, a hardship. Luckily, Illinois has a fantastic program to help families who need a little assistance.

In 2010, Back 2 School Illinois was formed (formerly The Illinois Currency Exchange Charitable Foundation) by the Community Currency Exchange Association of Illinois (CCEA). They began some years earlier launching their first free school supply distribution. Over the years, the school supplies program continued to expand, reaching more and more children from low-income families. Over 1-million children in Illinois live in low-income or poverty conditions.

This eventually took the form they presently use – Back 2 School Kits. Each kit contains the core supplies students need to succeed in their classrooms. Back 2 School Illinois partners with numerous community organizations and government agencies to distribute the kits to the kids in need.

A few years ago, they added the Build-A-Kit initiative, which helps streamline and speed up their process by allowing companies to buy school supplies in bulk assembled as part of a team-building exercise. A win-win all the way around.

Not only do they create the kits and are the most extensive school supply distribution in the state, but they also offer other programs, including a college scholarship program and their Power Up Boot Camp, which teaches exercise and nutrition to young people.

This year they have a way to honor and reward teachers for their hard work and dedication with their B2SI “We Appreciate Teachers” Contest. Nominees have a chance to win a Back 2 School Illinois gift package, which includes school supplies for their students and something special for them. You can submit an application on behalf of a teacher, and teachers can even nominate themselves. A school in Illinois must currently employ them, and only ten teachers will be chosen. Applications are due no later than September 24, 2021. Just go to the website to apply – https://b2si.org/

You can get involved by volunteering or just making a donation on their website. Keep in touch and up to date on their activities on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/Back2SchoolIllinois/.

Health Guidance for the 2021-22 School Year:

As we all know, vaccines are readily available to everyone 12 years old and over. They are highly recommended by the CDC and most health care providers though not mandatory in most cases. Our Governor Pritzker has issued an Executive Order for Illinois Schools requiring the wearing of masks indoors by everyone at schools and while traveling on school transportation (busses) regardless of vaccination status until further notice. This includes indoor sports as outdoor school activities/sports have not been affected to this point.

We all wish things were back to some semblance of normal. While things have improved with the Covid virus, there is still a significant threat to our country, and Illinois is not exempt. Cases are on the rise due to the new variant(s), and younger people are becoming affected by this horrible pandemic. Due to this, the CDC guidelines were released, and we must consider the outline for reopening. Things may change rapidly, but as it stands, IDPH and ISBE have set their guidance for school reopening.

The base reopening plan is as follows:

  1. Face coverings/masks are recommended but not required with the exception of on busses where they are still required for all students and staff
  2. Daily in-person school for all
  3. Remote learning only if quarantined (contact tracing and quarantine according to Health Department)
  4. Classrooms will maintain a 3-foot minimum distance between students and will attempt to achieve 6-feet whenever possible.
  5. Meals at elementary schools will continue to be served in classrooms to maintain 3 to 6 ft distancing
  6. All PE and outside activities will revert to pre-COVID 19 protocols
  7. All sports and extracurricular activities will have no restrictions for students and spectators
  8. Cleaning in all buildings will continue to be emphasized with above standard sanitation efforts
  9. There will be no self -certification required before school
  10. Optional Covid testing will still be available for those with symptoms
  11. Plans continue to be subject to change based on current information and Health Department input. Covid prevention steps can decrease or increase as deemed necessary

Changes or updates will be shared as soon as possible as they occur. The main concern is that we keep our children, teachers, school staff, and our entire community as safe as is possible. There is nothing that can be a substitute for in-school learning. Let’s have the best school year ever and keep making Marshall happy, safe, and SMART!