Letter to Parents from Superintendent Owsley

Dear CUSD #7 Families,

I hope you are continuing to enjoy your summer, as everyone’s thoughts turn toward the Fall and the upcoming school year.  Unfortunately, many more questions still exist than do answers.  As districts begin to release their re-opening plans, I wanted to pass along two of the options members of the school board, administration, faculty, support staff, maintenance staff, cafeteria staff, and members of the transportation department have been working on.  While no plan is perfect, members of these departments feel as if we have a strong foundation for opening school for the 2020-2021 school year.  I will maintain that the stance of everyone involved is that the health and safety of our families, students, and staff is paramount.  While it is widely understood that in person instruction is the best “educational” option for our students, it may also involve the most risk.  For this reason, CUSD #7 has created two re-introduction plans to kick off the school year. 

The first phase of this plan is to begin the school year fully remotely.  Students will be provided a time to pick up books, materials, and devices needed to begin their daily work.  A new remote education plan has been created and is available on the district website.  The Illinois State Board of Education is expected to release further guidelines in the coming weeks, so the plan listed is a living document and may change until those guidelines are received.  During this time, administration will remain in constant contact with the Macoupin County Health Department to gauge COVID case numbers in our area.

The second phase of CUSD #7’s plan is to re-introduce students into the buildings with a 4 day per week hybrid plan.  During this phase, all students will have in-person learning Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday.  Wednesdays will be used to deeply clean all buildings and buses, while students learn remotely.  While students return to school physically, they’ll be doing so on an abbreviated schedule.  Gillespie Middle School and Gillespie High School will begin promptly at 7:30 and will be dismissed with a sack lunch at 1:00 each afternoon.  BenGil Elementary students will begin promptly at 8:30 and will conclude their day at 2:00. All students who attend in-person learning will be required to wear a mask per ISBE guidelines. 

I would also ask that you respect the office hour times listed in each of our learning plans.  While our staff will do everything in their power to assist your student, they are not “on call” 24 hours per day 7 days per week.  If you request assistance from a teacher outside of their normal contractual hours, you may not hear back from them until the next “school” day.  Please remember, many of our staff members will serve as teachers during the day and will be their own child’s teacher during the evening hours.

To reiterate, the health of our families, students, and staff is the primary concern of CUSD #7.  We all look forward to the time where all students can return to their “normal”.  Unfortunately, I do not believe now is that time.  I will continue to keep everyone updated as much as possible as we navigate these uncharted waters.  I cannot thank you enough for your continued patience during these hectic times.  Stay Safe, Stay Healthy!!


R. Shane Owsley

CUSD #7 Superintendent.