With less than two months before the start of a new school year, Norris City-Omaha-Enfield (NCOE) administration officials are still grappling over how to reopen attendance centers in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. June 22, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) issued a 63-page document outlining in excruciating detail how in-person classes could begin this fall. In the words of NCOE Superintendent, Matt Vollman, opening with in-person classes comes with “some pretty onerous guidelines”.

Among those guidelines, all students, teachers and staff members must wear face masks.

“I have my concerns how you make that work in reality,” Supt. Vollman said. “Especially with the smaller kids.” Other requirements involve temperature checks and having 50 persons or less in a classroom. While that particular requirement won’t impact NCOE classroom that much, it will impact situations involving breakfasts and lunches.

Officials say they will have to look closely at scheduling lunches and make adjustments where needed. One board member asked just how binding the ISBE in-person class requirements are.

“They want to know if there is any flexibility,” Vollman said. “That’s a very good question. First we will seek guidance from the district’s attorney and insurance carrier. We don’t want to set ourselves up for a liability problem.”