Cala Smoldt/Correspondent


The Sherrard school board passed revisions to their ‘Return to Learn Plan’ that could mean fewer students sent home. The school board met on September 16th.


The revisions passed by the Illinois Department of Public Health and adopted by Sherrard schools give nurses latitude to decipher whether a symptom has a known cause - or if it’s something new that needs a doctor’s note for return.


Superintendent Alan Boucher said the change will help families avoid unnecessarily being sent home, "For example, now it has to be abdominal pain - with no known cause. If you normally have a stomach ache because you have IBS or maybe you’re sensitive to certain kinds of foods - before they made this change, you still had to go home and have a doctor’s note saying it’s because of your food sensitivity.


Whereas now, if the nurse knows about that - then that can be taken into consideration when a decision is made about whether or not a student or staff member needs to go home."


The revision states, "...per IDPH guidance: Every symptomatic person should be evaluated by their healthcare provider on a case-by-case basis and decisions to test for COVID-19 should be based on their personal health history. Diagnostic testing is strongly encouraged whenever an individual experiences COVID-like symptoms as it is possible to have COVID-19 and other health conditions at the same time..."


The plan previously required students and staff with any new symptom be sent home and tested for COVID-19 to return to school and/or not return for a period of 10-14 days, depending on when their symptoms first arose - per Illinois Department of Public Health and Illinois State Board of Education guidelines.


A simple 15-minutes COVID-19 test means cutting substitute teacher costs. The district purchased 200 Antigen Tests at $21 each.


The test works by mixing saliva in with chemicals - and then it’s poured onto a test strip.


"Staff will be priority at first. We’ll somehow make it available to the parents, so they can pay the $21… Then have their child go ahead and stay at school if the test is negative, or allow to come back if they’ve gone home," said Boucher.


"I think the test will easily pay for itself."


Boucher said sub costs are $110 to $270 per day a teacher is out, "That can get into thousands of dollars."


The 2021 school year budget was passed by the board.


Revenue versus expenditures for the funds labeled education, operations and maintenance and transportation is $73,899 in the black. Expenses rose by $25,462 this year, compared to last year.


"We have additional expenses, of course, because of covid. We hired two additional custodians to keep things clean, we also hired two additional school nurses - we have lots of PPE we had to purchase, cleaning supplies, electrostatic cleaners, the list goes on and on, those are all expenses we didn’t anticipate a year ago - and of course, that’s puting a lot of pressure on the budget," said Boucher.


"GIven the circumstances of being in a worldwide pandemic, I think our budget is really pretty solid."


He said they hope to work hard to erase any deficit, "We’re also hopeful the revenues will come in as we expected, so that it can also help float off some of that expense. We did get a couple grants that really helped from the Looser Flake Foundation and also through the Federal Cares Grant Act - that helped us fund some of those additional expenditures, of course, that can’t cover it all. We’ll amend the budget as necessary."


In other news:


-As of this writing, the Sherrard School District has reported zero COVID-19 positive cases


-Baseball and softball field work was tabled to further investigate the submitted proposals.


-The board approved Tracey Anderson for the position of assistant business manager at the Unit Office