October 2020 School Board Meeting Minutes

Link to recording of the October 7, 2020 Special Board of Education Meeting: https://drive.google.com/file/d/13RC-day0I3wNXHI13govuoOl2IeYCHqe/view?usp=sharing


The special meeting of the Board of Education of School District 165 was held in the Carbondale Community High School Cafeteria, 1301 East Walnut Street, Carbondale, Illinois, on Wednesday, October 7, 2020, at 6:00 p.m.

Upon roll call, the following members were present:

Linda Flowers                         Francis Tsung
Lana Galan                             Julie VanWinkle
Joe Hudgins                            Brian Woodard
Christopher Swims (Remotely)

Also present were:

Stephen Murphy                     Erik Berrey
Ryan Thomas                          Lena Dierks
Justin Merriman

President Woodard declared a quorum present and the special meeting of October 7, 2020, was called to order.

Old Business—None

Public Comments: Mr. Thomas read in full the following emailed public comments:

Received from the CCHS Education Association (Attachment #1):

October 6, 2020

Dr. Brian Woodard, President
Board of Education
Carbondale Community High School

330 S. Giant City Rd.
Carbondale, IL 62902

Dear Dr. Woodard,

As most of us are parents, the faculty of Carbondale Community High School understand the desire to return to school, return to normal, and assume our old pursuits. We long for it, actually, to connect with students personally and authentically, to engage with them in and out of the classroom. In our hope to resume normal life, we can’t lose sight that a once-in-a-100-year pandemic must necessarily change the way society operates.  To date, we feel that the administration, faculty, and staff of Carbondale Community High School have responded to the challenges of Covid-19 responsibly and with herculean efforts to be sure that all students have access to high quality education.  It’s important to take the next steps carefully.

The policies and procedures Mr. Murphy outlines do a reasonable job of balancing the return of students with the health and safety of students and teachers. The administration comprehensively addresses many of the issues raised by the return of students to the building. The risks posed, however, do cause areas of concern.

●A fair number of teachers have compromised immune systems. Mr.  Murphy’s plan does provide for those with lower immunity to teach from home. Aides and subs would be required in the classrooms. Do we have enough staff to cover those classrooms?

●Judging from the difficulty of enforcing mask wearing among students now at the high school, we do not believe we have enough staff to monitor hallways sufficiently during passing periods, and before and after school.

●It should be noted that 47% of our student body are students of color. An article in the New England Journal of Medicine found that people of color more likely to become ill and die from Covid-19. Yes, we are concerned for our healths, but we worry more for our students and those with whom they live.

●Students, families and teachers should be prepared for a surge in local cases. Over 200,000 citizens have died since February. Some projections suggest that number may nearly double by January.

●Teachers, administration, and students have worked tirelessly in the past months to make our remote platform and effective learning environment. We are concerned changes will reduce its effectiveness, particularly considering 40% of students will remain remote.

Of course, if called, we will adapt as we have to the present circumstances, always doing our best to serve our wonderful students and our community. Part of the strength of this school is that we lead other districts, educationally and administratively, with best practices. We want to be sure we’re leading in this case as well, rather than chasing a nostalgia for lost experience the pandemic does not allow.


Carbondale Community High School Education Association

Member Tsung asked if the letter was an official letter from all of the members.  Mr. Murphy said he was given the letter from the association.

Received from Carmen Jones (Attachment #2):

From: Carmen Jones <carmenj71@yahoo.com>
Sent: Tuesday, October 6, 2020 8:11 PM
To: Steve Murphy <Steve.Murphy@cchs165.com>
Subject: Return to classroom

Our children are suffering. With most, if not all surrounding SI high schools currently in the classroom, there is absolutely no reason why CCHS cannot do the same. I am disappointed to hear that some of your teachers are “ pressing“ you to stay remote . Your teachers are out in the community, at grocery stores, public settings, yet afraid to return to classroom. Unacceptable. I started a Facebook petition on this matter. I have over 150 members and climbing and multiple comments from parents and community members sharing their thoughts and concerns.   I have high hopes that you and the board will make the right decision. Thank you.  Carmen Jones

Received from Jessica Piper (Attachment #3):

From: Jessica Piper <jpiper66@gmail.com>
Sent: Tuesday, October 6, 2020 1:16 PM
To: Steve Murphy <Steve.Murphy@cchs165.com>
Subject: Return to Classroom

Jessica Piper►Petition to return to in classroom learning at CCHS

I agree that the kids need to be attending classes in person. I have two children that this is affecting differently. One of my children has had problems with getting into classes due to problems with internet and or class log ins while the other is missing all the social interactions and getting the experiences that go along with being a freshman. The have lost out so much that I think that we need to get some normalcy back in their lives. They need to be back in the classroom.

Received from Kara Huff Hartz (Attachment #4):

From: Kara Hartz <rudibeckia@gmail.com>
Sent: Tuesday, October 6, 2020 4:53 PM
To: Steve Murphy <Steve.Murphy@cchs165.com>
Subject: remote learning-return to school

Mr. Murphy,

I completed the remote learning/return to school survey for my son, Owen Hartz indicating that we would return to school as the plan allows. While I have completed the survey with every hope that students will be able to return to school under a hybrid plan, and I continue to have reservations about allowing my son to return to school, even if CCHS deems that the plan allows it. 

-The Jackson county metrics have improved only for a few weeks. This is not enough time to determine if our local response has been good enough and will remain good enough to keep the current metrics below the targets. Given the increases the state has already observed (and really, the entire nation) recently, it's unrealistic to expect these metrics to stay low for long. More time is needed to determine if a safe return to in-person instruction can occur. 

-I'm concerned that our return-to-school plan doesn't have guidance for going back to remote instruction that is protective enough. To my knowledge, the return-to-remote plan is the reverse of the return-to-school plan (i.e., the county metrics are a switch, and above the metrics, we switch to remote, and below we switch to in-person). If this is the case, then this fails to take into account an important factor: the lag time it takes for positive cases to be reported in a population after infections have occurred. The lag time occurs for several reasons, including the 1-2 week incubation period, that asymptomatic individuals contribute to infection spread without detection, and the time for test results to be measured, reported, and then figured into a 7-day average. Because of the lag time, using a return-to-remote plan based on the same metrics as the return-to-school would allow CCHS to remain in-person for two to three weeks after the increased infection rates have occurred, causing CCHS students to advance the spread in the community. For these reasons, we need to consider a return-to-remote plan that has stricter metrics and enables faster responses than the return-to-school plan. 

In addition, I would also like information about how the CCHS plans to address mitigation measures for students in school, including improving air circulation the school, a plan for how the CCHS will respond to positive cases in students and faculty and their family to limit spread, including notification plans, contact tracing, and isolation and quarantine requirements, and how the school plans to enforce these measures (such as social distancing, self-reporting, and mask wearing). The July 30th 2020 plan was especially detailed regarding temperature checks, hand hygiene, and school sensitization. However, we now know that asymptomatic individuals will not be detected by routine screens and that air circulation is at least as important as direct and indirect surface contact. These are important parts of a successful remain-in-school plan, and I'm concerned that there has not been enough time to develop responses. 

It's my hope that CCHS is in the process of addressing these challenges, but I understand that this is a considerable task and quite difficult. For this reason, I don't think that in-person instruction should occur at this time. 


Kara Huff Hartz

Received from Erin Puffer (Attachment #5):

From: Erin Puffer <e.puffer13@gmail.com>
Sent: Tuesday, October 6, 2020 12:29 PM
To: Steve Murphy <Steve.Murphy@cchs165.com>
Subject: Return to School

Mr. Murphy,

My name is Erin Puffer and I am the mother of a Junior at CCHS.

When first given the option, our household opted for remote learning.  We both had high hopes of this being an excellent learning opportunity, as well as an opportunity to be removed from the typical drama that comes with being in high school.  However, my daughter has expressed frustrations on how overwhelmed she is with her classes and is struggling to keep up with assignments. I know everyone is struggling, including teachers and admin. And I in no way want to risk our teachers, but our students need to be in school.  My daughters' grades are suffering and Junior year is a big one for high school students.  She has been utilizing the open gym and grades have been slowly improving, but she, like many other students, needs the face to face interactions with their teachers and classmates.  Many other schools in southern Illinois have returned to school or have adjusted attendance for students to be on campus. Please consider letting students return to CCHS campus, even just part time, as was outlined before deciding to go fully remote. 

Thank you for your time,

Erin Puffer

Member Tsung requested for the record the last name be omitted from the following public comment because of the reference to an IEP. Mr. Murphy advised that he had been in contact with the parent and she indicated she was okay with using her last name; however, he said the last name would be omitted per Dr. Tsung’s request.

Received from Amy Schandl (Attachment #6)

From: Amy Schandl <amyschandl@gmail.com>
Sent: Monday, October 5, 2020 3:18 PM
To: Steve Murphy <Steve.Murphy@cchs165.com>
Subject: Petition to send our kids to school

I believe it would be more beneficial for our children to return to school because remote learning has been such a struggle especially with my oldest son. He’s a senior. He is in IEP and really needs the in classroom setting. He has been confused on assignments and how to turn some assignments in. He’s too embarrassed to ask for help with all the students right there listening. We have also had a lot of internet issues at times that really interferes with his classroom time. I really believe that parents should have a choice to send their kids to school. I understand that there are parents with underlining health conditions or there are grandparents that raise their children. They should definitely have a choice to keep kids home but with my kids, if they caught covid and brought it home and exposed us to it, we would be fine. Give us a choice please! I want my son to pass and graduate high school. I want his confidence back. He’s in football. Football is the one thing he loves the most and if gets kicked off the team it would tear him up. Thank you for allowing us parents a voice.--

Amy Schandl

Received from Christine Chance (Attachment #7)

From: crchance@frontier.com <crchance@frontier.com>
Sent: Monday, October 5, 2020 3:48 PM
To: Steve Murphy <Steve.Murphy@cchs165.com>
Subject: Return to school

Well, parents are posting Marion’s schedule and that looks disastrous though Friday remote would be nice.  Please give them consistency as much as is possible.  Our 2 are thriving now in remote learning and want to come back but as soon as I see other schools shut grades down for positive tests, I have to ask if you can do it safely and commit to structure and predictability for them.  Ours may stay home regardless but I do believe, socially, they need to see other students. Thank you all for your efforts to balance their safety while pushing for continued academic excellence.

Christine Chance

Received from Andrew J. Zieba (Attachment #8)

From: ajzieba@hotmail.com <ajzieba@hotmail.com>
Sent: Monday, October 5, 2020 7:33 PM
To: Steve Murphy <Steve.Murphy@cchs165.com>
Subject: Open school

Mr. Murphy as a guardian to Micah Watson, a taxpayer to CCHS, and an alumni Class of 1986, I strongly recommend that we open up the school and quit cheating us out of an education for our children. Micah's grades are suffering and mental state is also suffering. These kids need interaction with teachers and students. Also we pay a real estate tax that funds an open public school. The portion that we pay to 165 guarantees our kid an education with a physical campus. We pay for the education and our kids are going to get the education we have been promised.

Respectfully yours

Andrew J. Zieba,
Parent/guardian and taxpayer

Return to School Plan Mr. Murphy presented the following Parent Letter and Return to School Plan:

School Logo

October 8, 2020

CCHS District 165 Students, Parents, and Community Members,

At a Special Meeting on July 30, 2020, the Carbondale Community High School District 165 Board of Education determined that the district would begin the 2020-21 school year in Remote Learning and continue through at least September 11, 2020. The Board also determined that the district would return to school in a Blended Learning model when conditions improved to allow students to safely return to campus.

The health metrics for Jackson County have improved substantially since early September.  The IDPH Metrics for School Determination of Community Spread establish four metrics for schools to consider when returning to in-person learning:

Metric                                                Target                                  Jackson County Level       IDPH Risk Level

Positivity Rate                                   Less than 5%                      3.7%                                    Minimal

New Cases per 100k                         Less than 50                       44                                         Minimal

New Cases                                         Stable/Decreasing              25                                         Minimal

Youth Cases                                      Stable/Decreasing              4                                           Minimal

Due to the minimal risk level for returning to school as determined by the Jackson County Health Department, the Carbondale Community High School District 165 Board of Education has determined that CCHS will return to school in the Blended Learning model beginning on October 19. Families should be aware of the following information as we prepare to return:

  1. We will continue to use the current class schedule. Students are expected to attend class regardless of whether they are on campus or at home.
  2. Students have the option to stay in complete Remote Learning for the second quarter. A survey was sent to parents to indicate their preference for Remote Learning. Please contact the Principal’s Office at the number below if you have not completed the survey for your student.
  3. Students with last names ending in A-L will attend in person on Monday and Thursday. Students with last names M-Z will attend in person on Tuesday and Friday.
  4. Most courses will still use a Remote Learning platform, even when students are present in the classroom. Students are expected to bring their fully-charged Chromebook to school on days when they attend in person.
  5. At least two masks will be distributed to each student, and disposable masks will be available on campus. Students are expected to wear masks at all times while on campus. Failure to follow mask guidelines will result in immediate removal from campus.
  6. Buses will begin to run on October 19. Parents were sent a survey to notify the school if their student needed bus transportation. Parents must respond to the survey or contact the Principal’s Office at the number below to schedule bus transportation.

If you have any questions regarding the Blended Learning determination, please contact me at steve.murphy@cchs165.com or call me at 618-457-4722 ext 27. If you have questions about Blended Learning school procedures please contact Principal Ryan Thomas at ryan.thomas@cchs165.com or 618-457-3371 ext 225.


Stephen Murphy

CCHS District 165 Return to School Plan
July 30, 2020 (*modified October 7, 2020)

On May 5, 2020 Governor JB Pritzker announced the Restore Illinois plan, which explained a public health approach to safely reopen the state of Illinois. On June 23, 2020, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) released its guidance titled Starting the 2020-21 School Year. In-person instruction is strongly encouraged during Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois plan. During Phase 4, the Illinois Department of Public Health guidelines will require:

  • Use of appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) including face coverings;
  • 50 or fewer individuals gathering in one space
  • Social distancing observed as much as possible
  • Schools conduct symptom screenings and temperature checks, or require that individuals self-certify that they are free of symptoms before entering schools
  • An increase in school-wide cleaning and disinfection

With guidance from ISBE, IDPH, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Governor’s Office, Carbondale Community High School District 165 began developing its Remote and Blended Learning Plan to address the Phase 4 guidelines. The plan is a result of collaborative committee effort consisting of administrators, department chairs, teachers, support personnel and union leadership, and has been reviewed by the CCHS Board of Education. The goal of the plan is to provide the highest quality of academic instruction during the COVID-19 pandemic, while prioritizing the safety and wellness of our students and employees. The plan has been divided into three areas: Instruction and Learning, Safety and Wellness, and Operations.

The district will begin the 2020-21 School Year in Remote Learning on August 17, 2020 and continue through at least Friday September 11, 2020 or until students are deemed safe to return to school under a Blended Learning Model.

Circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic continue to evolve. CCHS is prepared to evolve our procedures and instructional methodologies accordingly to meet the needs of our students. We will be ready to provide high quality education and supports to our students under any circumstance or mandate.

Instruction and Learning: Remote Learning
(*as needed if health conditions necessitate a return to Remote Learning)

  1. The Remote Instruction schedule will be as follows:

    EB          7:30am   - 8:10am1st           8:20am   - 9:00am

    2nd          9:05am   - 9:45am

    3rd           9:50am   - 10:30am

    4th           10:35am - 11:15am

    5th           11:20am - 12:00pm

    6th           12:05pm - 12:45pm          

    Asynchronous instruction and office hours will occur from 1:15pm - 3:00pm. Breakfast and lunch will be available for pickup in the cafeteria and at designated satellite locations.

  2. On all weekdays except Wednesday, all courses will be taught live online using video conferencing on the bell schedule above.


  3. On Wednesdays, students will have assignments to complete. Teachers will contact individual students and small groups of students during assigned time periods. Wednesdays can also be used to schedule appointments with student support services.


  4. All courses will have a Remote Learning digital platform. English and Career Education use Microsoft Teams. All other courses use Google Classroom. Course content and assignments will be posted to the digital platform.


  5. During each five-day week there will be five days’ worth of course content posted to the digital platform. On Monday mornings teachers will open the content and assignments for the week.


  6. Teachers will take attendance during live video instruction. All students will also be assigned a Remote Attendance Check-in teacher. Students will receive an attendance prompt every morning from this teacher and will also be contacted once per week by phone or video conference.


  7. All students who need a device will be issued a Chromebook, and families will be provided assistance with internet connectivity.


  8. With administrative approval and under the Safety and Wellness guidelines listed in this plan, students with specific needs may be allowed to access campus in order to meet with school personnel or obtain internet access.


  9. The Remote Learning model does not preclude students from participating in extracurricular activities.

Instruction and Learning: Blended Learning
(*beginning October 19, 2020)

  1. Students will be split alphabetically into two groups: A and B. The split will allow for adequate social distancing on campus. The A-Group (currently last name beginning *A-L) will attend on Mondays and Thursdays. The B-Group (last name *M-Z) will attend on Tuesdays and Fridays. Wednesday will be a remote learning day for all students.


  2. The daily schedule will be as follows:

    EB          7:30am   - 8:10am

    1st           8:25am   - 9:05am

    2nd          9:09am   - 9:49am

    3rd           9:53am   - 10:33am

    4th           10:37am - 11:17am

    5th           11:21am - 12:01pm

    6th           12:05pm - 12:45pm

    Attendance and remote learning check-in and planning will occur from 1:15pm - 3:00pm.

    Breakfast and lunch will be on a “grab and go” basis to be consumed at home.                                                                                              

  3. Students/families may opt to do complete Remote Learning.


  4. Special Education students may receive modified in-person schedules to receive services per their individual need and program.


  5. Daily attendance will be taken for all students, whether attending in-person or at home remotely. Faculty and staff are developing the daily expectation for students on their remote learning days.


  6. Grading will be traditional grading. Students will be accountable for completing all assignments, whether remotely or in-person.


  7. Student supports (Counseling, Social Work, Speech) will be provided.


  8. Chromebooks will be distributed to all students who need them. District staff will work on options for families who do not have reliable connectivity. *Students attending classes on campus are expected to bring their fully charge Chromebook to school.


  9. Terrier Care will be open. Students are encouraged to schedule appointments on remote days and enter through the external Terrier Care doors.

Safety and Wellness

  1. All staff and students will be required to wear face masks while inside the school and on buses.
  2. Visitors to the school will be extremely limited. All visitors will wear face masks while inside the school.
  3. CCHS students and staff are to maintain social distancing (6 feet separation) throughout the school day to the extent possible. Classrooms will be organized to space students apart to the greatest extent possible while retaining educational function. Students will be required to move expeditiously in the hallways during passing periods.
  4. Lockers will not be used.
  5. Frequent hand washing and hand sanitizing is key to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Employees and students are encouraged to wash hands as often as practicable with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Hand sanitizing stations will be installed in all classrooms and offices, and in multiple locations throughout the building.
  6. Classrooms will be cleaned and disinfected daily. Emphasis will be placed on high touch surfaces and common areas. Restrooms and common areas will be cleaned multiple times throughout the day.
  7. Students will be limited to groups of 50 in any one area including buses. Hallway traffic patterns will be adjusted to limit clustering of students.
  8. Students will be encouraged to bring water bottles to school. Fountains will not be operational.
  9. Employees and students will receive safety training related to social distancing, face coverings, personal hygiene procedures, and symptoms of COVID-19.
  10. All students and employees will be required to have a health screening or self-certification of health upon entering campus. Students and employees must stay home when not feeling well. By entering the school building, students and employees are certifying that they meet the following criteria:
    • They do not have a temperature over 100.4F.
    • They are not taking fever-reducing medicines such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or acetaminophen.
    • They have not had close contact or cared for someone with COVID-19 within the past 14 days.
    • They have not been self-directed to quarantine by a health care provider, or by the County or State Department of Public Health.
    • They do NOT have any of the following symptoms:
      • Chills, Cough, Fatigue, Headache, Sore Throat
      • Shortness of Breath/difficulty breathing
      • Muscle or body aches
      • New loss of taste or smell
      • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
  11. A quarantine area will be established on campus. Students who become symptomatic of COVID-19 while at school will be immediately directed to return home.


  1. To the greatest extent possible, visitors will be restricted from entering the building. Face coverings are required to enter campus and must be worn at all times. All visitors must undergo a health screening prior to entering the building at the Walnut Street Entrance.


  2. Facility Use Requests from outside groups must be approved by the Superintendent. All requests that were approved prior to August 2020 are null and void.


  3. Meals will be provided for students both on and off campus.


  4. Transportation: Robinson Transport is developing safety protocols to keep our staff and students safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.
    1. Students must wear face masks at all times when on the bus
    2. Eating and drinking is prohibited on the bus.
    3. Students will be required to provide self-certification of health before boarding the bus, and will have their temperature checked before boarding the bus.
    4. Drivers must wear approved face coverings and perform regular hand hygiene.
    5. Divers are subject to health screenings as provided by Robinson Transport.
  5. All custodian and maintenance staff will follow the established cleaning procedures for building cleaning and disinfection as recommended by the IDPH and will be trained on the Return to School guidelines, where applicable. These procedures will include extra sanitation efforts using certified EPA products in both low/high contact areas including: desktops, countertops, door handles, handrails, light switches and restroom fixtures.

Building custodians will conduct daily cleaning and disinfection. An EPA approved cleaner will be used for disinfection along with our standard cleaning protocols. All frequently touched surfaces will be cleaned on a regular basis. Common areas will be cleaned throughout the day. Soft surfaces such as carpet and rugs will be disinfected daily. Extra sanitation efforts will occur during in-class learning which will address common areas. At least twice per week, a detailed sanitation will occur throughout the facility with extensive deep cleaning of restrooms and other common areas.

Member Leaves Meeting: Member Swims texted Mr. Murphy at 6:39 p.m. and said that he was leaving the meeting at that time and that if he were voting on the Return to School Plan, he would vote no.

Member VanWinkle said she was concerned that the association’s letter appeared to show a reluctance by the teachers to return to school, and she asked was that the feeling of all the teachers. Member Tsung said that is what he meant when he asked if the letter was an official letter representing all of the teachers.

Erik Berrey said the letter was crafted at a meeting where 50 members were present, and the letter was reflective of the concerns expressed during the meeting by those people.  He said the teachers will step up and do whatever is necessary to make the return to school successful.

On behalf of the Board, President Woodard thanked and commended the faculty and administration for all of their hard work and continuing efforts during the pandemic.

Motion by Hudgins, seconded by Tsung, to approve the updated Return to School Plan recommending the Blended Learning model be implemented on Monday, October 19, 2020, allowing students to return to campus on an “A/B” schedule at that time.  Roll call:  Flowers, Galan, Hudgins, Tsung, VanWinkle and Woodard voted yes. Nay, none. Motion carried.

October Board Meeting: The next Board of Education meeting will be Thursday, October 15, 2020.

Adjournment: The meeting adjourned at 7:07 p.m.

Link to Attachments 1-8: 


Posted: October 16, 2020