• Email from Dr. Benway - 5/26/22

    Dear OTHS Students, Families, and Employees,

    In light of the tragic events that happened in Uvalde, Texas yesterday, I wanted to send a brief note to the OTHS community. 

    Yesterday’s incident is another reminder of how quickly the norms of a school day or school year can change as a result of a senseless act of violence. We all share in the heartbreak for the families who lost a loved one yesterday or who were otherwise impacted by the unimaginable events that unfolded at Robb Elementary School.  Schools should be a place where students feel safe and secure.  I want our families to know that OTHS has procedures in place to prohibit unauthorized access into our school buildings.  In addition, OTHS monitors all individuals entering OTHS for unusual behaviors (students and staff included), as there have been some past instances of school violence where the assailant was found to be a current member of that school's campus community.  Therefore, school safety initiatives must involve more than just keeping unauthorized persons from entering the building and must involve more than just our security personnel. The reality is that we all share in the responsibility for safety in our schools and in our community. 

    IF YOU SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING! 

    Students, parents, employees, and members of the community can support safety efforts by increasing their awareness of any unusual behaviors, actions, or circumstances they observe, and then reporting those actions, behaviors and circumstances to the appropriate authority.  Too often, concerning behaviors and social media posts go unreported until after a tragedy occurs. 

    Students, we reach out to you and ask that you speak with an adult at OTHS if you see something on social media or if you hear of anything that may be harmful to our school community -- even if it occurs over the summer.  If you know of a friend in distress, or if you are in distress, please reach out to a trusted adult.  Several employees will be working at OTHS over the summer months and will be available to help you if needed.  OTHS cares!

    As we move forward from yesterday's events, each of us can play a role in preventing future tragedies.  Again, if you see something, say something.

    I wish everyone a happy, enjoyable, and safe summer! 

    Dr. Benway

  • Email from Dr. Benway 5/6/22

    Parents, Guardians, Community Members, and OTHS Employees:

    At OTHS, we always strive to improve upon the great things happening in our high school. As one of the many initiatives to create open communications with our stakeholders, the OTHS Board of Education and Administration hold "Conversations over Coffee" events.  The purpose of these meetings is to provide an opportunity for stakeholders to engage in dialogue and/or to learn more about OTHS.  The Board of Education and Administration work diligently to improve upon the tradition of excellence in education that we have at OTHS.  In an effort to be responsive to those we serve, we are reaching out to you and inviting you to provide input to guide the direction of education for our students at the high school level. 

    Please join members of the OTHS Board of Education and the OTHS Administration to have "CONVERSATIONS OVER COFFEE" on Monday, May 9th from 5:00 pm to 6:30 pm at St. Louis Bread Company located at 3120 Green Mount Crossing Drive, Shiloh, IL .

    Members of your OTHS school board, the superintendent, and other members from the OTHS administration will be available to address questions, concerns, or to engage in casual conversation about education and OTHS.  Please consider stopping by OTHS on your way home from work to take a moment to let us know your thoughts and ideas.  We want to hear from you.

    Please note, you do not have to commit to the entire 90 minutes of conversation.  You may come and go as it works in your schedule.  We hope you will be able to share a few moments of your time to chat with us and to participate in guiding OTHS to even higher levels of performance. 

    Yours for Excellence in Education,

    Dr. Darcy G. Benway, Superintendent

  • BILit

    The State Seal of Biliteracy recognizes students who can read, write, speak, and listen at an advanced level in a second language, and English.

    OTHS had 9 students earn the Seal of Biliteracy and 76 students earn the Commendation of Biliteracy this year!

    Comprehensive List

     

  • Email from Dr. Benway about Registration - 4/12/22

    OTHS Students and Families:

    Online registration for the 2022-2023 school year will be open from June 21 to August 5, 2022, for incoming 9th through 12th grade families in District #203 who do not require an affidavit. Families must complete registration documents and provide two proofs of residency. Families that need to provide an affidavit to prove residency must attend the in-person registration on Wednesday, July 27, from 12:00 pm to 7:00 pm or Thursday, August 4, from 7:30-2:30 on the Smiley campus. OTHS will mail new Skyward login and password information to freshman families in early June.  Families new to District #203 must contact the Smiley campus main office at 618-632-3507 for additional information.

    If you have any questions regarding registration for the 2022-2023 school year, please contact Twana Dollison at dollisont@oths.us.

    In addition, the approved school calendar for the 2022-2023 school year is attached.  School Calendar FY2022-2023 

    Important items to note in the 2022-2023 school calendar:

    1. The first day of student attendance will be Thursday, August 11, 2022.
    2. OTHS will still utilize emergency days (snow days) as needed for inclement weather.  Therefore, the last day of school should all emergency days need to be used would be May 25, 2023.
    3. Monday, March 6, 2023 will be a holiday (non-attendance day) unless it is needed to be used as an emergency day.
    4. Graduation for the class of 2023 will be on Saturday, May 27, 2023.

    Thank you for your continued support for OTHS.  I wish you all a wonderful spring break.

    Dr. Benway

  • E-Mail from Dr. Benway 2/24/22

    OTHS Students, Families, and Employees:

    Due to the icy conditions on parking lots, sidewalks, and on our rural and secondary roads, OTHS is cancelling classes tomorrow, Friday, February 25th.  Again, there will be no school for OTHS tomorrow.

    Please check with your coaches and sponsors for additional information on any OTHS competitions, extracurricular activities, and events.  Information will also be posted on the district web site at www.oths.us.

    This cancelled school day will be made up on Monday, March 7, 2022.  Therefore, the Casimir Pulaski holiday will be a day of student attendance this year.  Should we have any future snow days, OTHS will apply to the Illinois State Board of Education for Act of God days.

    Thank you and stay safe.

    Dr. Benway

  • Email from Dr. Benway 2/23/22

    Good Evening,

    Due to current road conditions and the forecast for additional sleet and snow overnight, OTHS has cancelled school tomorrow, February 24, 2022.  Again, there will be no school at OTHS tomorrow.  Please check with your coaches and sponsors for additional information on any OTHS competitions, extracurricular activities, and events.  Information will also be posted on the district web site at www.oths.us.

    This cancelled school day will be made up on Thursday, May 26, 2022.

    Thank you and stay safe.

    Dr. Benway

  • E-Mail from Dr. Benway - 2/9/22

    Good Evening OTHS Students, Families, and Employees,

    Tonight the Board of Education took action to make masks optional at OTHS effective immediately inside school buildings.   Masks will still be required on school buses.

    The Board would like to thank the many students, parents, and community members who provided input regarding the use of masks in schools.  Your voices are valued in our decision-making and we are very appreciative of the civil and professional manner in which our school community expressed opposing views.  OTHS students, families, and employees represent the school community that other districts wish to have.

    School leaders will continue to monitor COVID-19 metrics moving forward.  Should the spread of COVID-19 again surge in our community, masking may need to be implemented by the Board of Education in the future as a safety mitigation.

    The Board took no other action this evening.  All other safety mitigations and protocols are still be in place.  Social distancing will be even more important in our buildings as masking is relaxed.  

    Thank you for your support as these difficult decisions are considered.

    Dr. Benway

  • Email from Dr. Benway - 2/9/22

    OTHS Students, Families, and Employees,

    The Board of Education will hold an emergency Board Meeting tonight -- Wednesday, February 9, 2022 -- at 5:30 pm at the OTHS Smiley Campus.  The purpose of the emergency meeting is to address community unrest related to Executive Orders and mask mandates.

    Dr. Benway

  • E-Mail from Dr. Benway - 2/6/22

    OTHS Students, Parents, and Employees:

    I am writing you to ask for your patience and understanding as OTHS navigates the recent ruling regarding COVID-19 mandates in Illinois.

    On Friday, a Sangamon County judge ruled on two major lawsuits that challenged Governor Pritzker’s Executive Orders regarding COVID-19 mandates in schools.   At this time, OTHS school leaders are working diligently with legal counsel to determine the impact of these rulings on OTHS.  Please note that OTHS was not a party in either lawsuit.  The judge’s ruling appears to apply only to those individuals directly named in the lawsuits as plaintiff’s motions for class certification were denied. 

    Governor Pritzker has announced his plans to appeal the rulings.  The appellate court will have nine working days to render its decision, unless an extension of time is granted to the appellate court.

    Therefore, at this time, OTHS will stay the course on its COVID-19 safety mitigations that are currently in place.

    I ask for your patience as we review this decision, and we wait for action from the appellate court. Thank you for your continued support as we work through these issues. I recognize there are strong feelings on both sides of the issue and respect each perspective.  We should continue our efforts not to let this divide us.  As school leaders we are trying to meet the needs of all we serve to the best of our ability in a rapidly-changing environment.  We will communicate with you as more information and clarification become available.

    While this year has presented some challenges for us all, we will continue to move forward together.

    Dr. Benway

  • Email from Dr. Benway - 2/2/2022

    Good Afternoon,

    The winter weather is predicted to continue throughout the entire day tomorrow.  Significant snowfall totals on top of the already icy conditions are expected.

    Therefore, school at OTHS will be cancelled tomorrow, Thursday, February 3, 2022.  

    School leaders continue to monitor weather conditions.  We will evaluate the possibility of school on Friday and extracurricular events for the remainder of the week.

    As a reminder, OTHS will be using emergency days built into the school calendar for the days of school cancelled due to inclement weather.

    Please be careful if you must travel during this winter weather event.

    Dr. Benway

  • Email from Dr. Beway - 2/1/2022

    OTHS Students, Families and Employees:

    School Superintendents and City Officials across the St. Louis Metropolitan region just participated in a webinar with the National Weather Service-St. Louis (NWS).  The NWS has issued a winter storm warning for our area.  The forecast predicts that a significant wintery mix will begin in our area overnight tonight.  The precipitation will eventually change over to snow and will continue to into Thursday.  They are calling it the “biggest storm we’ve seen in at least a few years.”

       NWS Forecast 

    Based on the NWS forecast, school will be cancelled tomorrow, Wednesday, February 2, 2022.  School leaders will continue to monitor the impact of the storm and will evaluate the need for additional school closures.  OTHS will be using emergency days for any closures.  

    Please check with coaches and sponsors for the latest information regarding any extracurricular activities.

    This storm looks like it could be very dangerous, with significant impact to road conditions and causing possible power outages.

    Please take necessary precautions to stay safe.

    Dr. Benway

  • Posted 1/31/22

    As the threat of inclement weather is in the forecast, I wanted to share the district’s plans regarding snow days.  Should inclement weather cause unsafe travel conditions, OTHS will cancel school and have a snow day.  Many have inquired about the possibility of shifting to remote leaning when inclement weather occurs. I wanted to share with you the rationale why that is not the direction OTHS will be taking.

    • Not all teachers/paras have the ability to work remotely from home to instruct their students.  The District does not want teachers/paras driving to OTHS for their ability to delivery instruction in unsafe conditions.  During the remote learning held earlier during second semester, teachers provided instruction from OTHS unless under quarantine/isolation/exclusion.
    • Lesson plans may be disrupted for some classes whose in-person learning would be impacted.
    • Not all OTHS employees have duties that will allow them to work from home.  Some duties must be performed at OTHS.
    • ISBE requires lunches be provided on remote learning days, but not on snow days.  It would not be appropriate to ask Food Service workers to come into work to prepare lunches in unsafe conditions when other OTHS employees are not required to come to work due to safety concerns.  
    • A snow day may provide a nice break (day off) for both teachers and students during the stress of COVID-19. 
    • Districts build emergency days in the calendar for inclement weather.  OTHS has days in its calendar to accommodate a snow day.

    I know some schools may take a different approach for snow days.  I just wanted you to be prepared for OTHS plans to continue calling off school for snow days if appropriate.

    Thank you again for your support and partnership as we continue through this unusual school year. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend. 

    FAQ's Inclement Weather

    Dr. Benway, OTHS Superintendent

  • E-Mail from Dr. Weld - 1/27/2022

    Good Evening, OTHS Families,

    We are writing to inform you about the upcoming learning climate survey, Illinois 5 Essentials.  This is the tenth year the Illinois State Board of Education will implement this survey across the state. This survey is administered annually to students, parents, and teachers and is based on 20 plus years of research at the University of Chicago. The survey asks students and parents about their school experiences, perceptions, and relationships.  The compiled data gives school leaders critical student and parent input to help develop school improvement plans.  

    Student participants will be required to log-in using a code provided by the State of Illinois, and their birthdate, in order to complete the survey. Students’ identities will be completely confidential. Teachers or administrators will never see individual responses to survey questions and will only receive aggregated information, such as the total percentage of students who agree homework assignments help them learn course material.

    Please be aware that under the Protection of Pupil Rights Act. 20 U.S.C. Section 1232(c) (1) (A), you have the right to review a copy of the questions asked of your student(s). A copy of the survey questions has been attached for your review.

    Students are scheduled to take the survey during their advisory period on Tuesday, February 8th.    Students must bring an electronic device to complete the survey (Chromebook, laptop, or phone{not preferred}).  Each student will receive an e-mail on Thursday, February 3 with their unique code and survey link.   If you do not want your son or daughter to participate, please forward this e-mail to Mrs. Lebert at leberts@oths.us and provide the full legal name and grade of your student.  To support the time needed to complete the survey, the school schedule will be altered for February 8th.  A copy of the altered schedule is pasted below. 

    Parents are also encouraged to take the Illinois 5 Essentials Survey.   The estimated length of time for the parent survey is 10 minutes.  If you are interested in completing the survey, the link to the survey is:  IL 5 Essentials Parent Survey 

    SMILEY CAMPUS

    MILBURN CAMPUS

    PERIOD

    TIMES

    LENGTH IN MINUTES

    PERIOD

    TIMES

    LENGTH IN MINUTES

    Early Bird

    7:05 – 7:55

    50

    NA

    NA

    NA

    1st

    8:00 – 8:48

    48

    1st

    7:30 – 8:22

    52

    2nd

    8:53 – 9:41

    48

    2nd

    8:27 – 9:19

    52

    3rd

    9:46 – 10:51

    9:46 – 10:16

    10:21 – 10:51

    65

    3rd

    9:24 – 10:16

    52

    4th

    10:56 – 12:01

    10:56 – 11:26

    11:31 – 12:01

    65

    4th

    10:21 – 11:26

    10:21 – 10:51

    10:56 – 11:26

    65

    5th

    12:06 – 1:11

    12:06 – 12:36

    12:41 – 1:11

    65

    5th

    11:31 – 12:31

    11:31 – 11:56

    12:01 – 12:31

    60

    6th

    1:16 – 2:03

    47

    6th

    12:36 – 1:28

    52

    7th

    2:08 – 2:55

    47

    7th

    1:33 – 2:25

    52

    Have a wonderful evening,

    Martha Weld, Assistant Superintendent

    2021-22 5Essentials Student Survey.pdf 

    (If the above link does not open, please do an online search for "Illinois 5 Essentials Student Survey Questions".

  • Email from Dr. Benway 1/12/22

    Good Afternoon OTHS Students, Families, and Employees,

    Thank you for your support as we transitioned to remote learning this week.  The plan at this time is to return to in-person learning on Tuesday, January 18th.  This email contains important information for our students, families, and employees.

    REVISED HEALTH GUIDANCE FOR SCHOOLS

    Late yesterday afternoon, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and the Illinois Department of Education (ISBE) released updated guidance to schools for public health matters related to COVID-19.  The guidance can be found at https://www.isbe.net/Documents/Updated-Public-Health-School-Guidance.pdf 

    A major component of the new guidance included a change to exclusion protocols for COVID-19 related incidents.  The chart below was provided to schools by IDPH/ISBE and will be followed by OTHS.

    If you test positive for COVID-19 (exclusion)

    Everyone, regardless of vaccination status, must do the following:

    • Stay home for a minimum of five days and a maximum of 10 days after the first day of symptoms or the specimen collection date from positive viral test for asymptomatic persons.

    • Continue to wear a mask around others for five more days after returning to school.

     

    Individuals may return to school after five days if asymptomatic or if fever-free without fever reducing medication for 24 hours, diarrhea/vomiting have ceased for 24 hours, and other symptoms have improved.

     

    Be aware that your clinical provider may determine that you need a longer period of isolation based on certain underlying clinical conditions such as a weakened immune system.

     

    If you were exposed to someone with COVID-19 and have no COVID-19-like symptoms (exclusion)

    The following people are close contacts* who must be excluded from school:

    • Students and staff who are not fully vaccinated (completed primary series).

    • Students and staff aged 18 years and older who have received primary COVID-19 vaccine doses but have not received a booster dose when eligible (“unboosted”).

     

    As an alternative to exclusion for individuals who are close contacts, schools may permit close contacts without symptoms of COVID-19 who were exposed in the school setting during the school day (excludes extracurricular activities) to remain in school through Test to Stay.

     

    Individuals without symptoms of COVID-19 who are not participating in Test to Stay:

    • Must stay home for five days after the last contact with the person who has COVID-19;

    • Must wear a mask around others for five additional days and remain asymptomatic; and

    • Should test for COVID-19 on day five. Those testing positive should be excluded from school and follow guidance for persons testing positive.

     

    CONTINUED:

    If you were exposed to someone with COVID-19 and have no COVID-19-like symptoms (exclusion)

    The following people are not close contacts* who, therefore, do not require exclusion:

    • A student who was within 3 to 6 feet in a classroom setting for least 15 minutes with a confirmed or probable student case if both case and contact were consistently masked for the entire exposure period.

    • Students and staff aged 18 years and older who have received all recommended COVID-19 vaccine doses, including boosters and additional primary doses for some immunocompromised people.

    • A student aged 5-17 years who completed the primary series of a COVID-19 vaccine.

    • An individual on school transportation within 3 to 6 feet if both the confirmed case and the exposed individual were consistently and correctly masked during the entire exposure period and windows were opened (front, middle, and back, or overhead) to allow for good ventilation or HEPA filters were in use during transit.

    • An individual who has tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 90 days from date of exposure.

    • An individual who is solely exposed to a confirmed case while outdoors; however, schools may coordinate with their local health department to determine the necessity of exclusion for higher-risk outdoor exposures.

     

    These individuals must wear a mask around others for 10 days and may consider testing for COVID-19 on day five, if possible. Those testing positive should be excluded from school and follow guidance for persons testing positive.

    *Close contact means an individual who was within 6 feet of a confirmed or probable case for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more in a 24-hour period. However, a close contact is not:

    • A student who was within 3 to 6 feet in a classroom setting for least 15 minutes with a confirmed or probable student case if both case and contact were consistently masked for the entire exposure period.

    • Students and staff aged 18 years and older who have received all recommended COVID-19 vaccine doses, including boosters.

    • A student aged 5-17 years who completed the primary series of a COVID-19 vaccine.

    • An individual on school transportation within 3 to 6 feet if both the confirmed case and the exposed individual were consistently and correctly masked during the entire exposure period.

    • An individual who has tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 90 days from date of exposure.

    • An individual who is solely exposed to a confirmed case while outdoors; however, schools may coordinate with their local health department to determine the necessity of exclusion for higher-risk outdoor exposures.

    As always, you can reach out to Gina Wright, COVID Nurse Coordinators with questions at wrightG@oths.us or 618-632-3507 x610.

    ATHLETICS/EXTRACURRICULARS

    Athletics and extracurricular activities will continue as scheduled with existing safety protocols in place.  Spectators are encouraged to check with the venue for any contest and/or competition regarding limitations for attendance. 

    PRACTICE ACT/SAT TESTING – Thursday, January 20, 2022

    If OTHS is in-person as planned next week

    • OTHS intends to continue with the planned ACT/SAT testing scheduled for Thursday, January 20th for all sophomore and junior students.
    • Senior students are not to report to school on January 20th. This day provides a great opportunity for seniors to participate in a college visit or to shadow someone in your desired career path.
    • Freshman students will follow a shortened schedule.

    UPCOMING MEETINGS AND IMPORTANT DATES:

    • NO SCHOOL – Monday, January 17, 2022 – Martin Luther King Holiday
    • Planned Return to In-Person Learning – Tuesday, January 18, 2022
    • Facilities Committee Meeting – Tuesday, January 18, 2022 @ 4:00 pm – Smiley Campus IMC
    • Practice ACT/SAT – Thursday, January 20, 2022
    • Monthly Board Meeting – Thursday, January 20, 2022 @ 7:00 pm – Smiley Campus IMC
    • Achievement GAP Meeting – Tuesday, January 25, 2022 @ 5:00 pm – Smiley Campus IMC
    • Education Committee Meeting – Wednesday, January 26, 2022 @ 4:00 pm – Smiley Campus IMC

     

    Thank you again for your patience and support.  You may contact me if you have questions or concerns at benwayd@oths.us or 618-632-3507 x660.

    Dr. Darcy G. Benway, OTHS Superintendent

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  • Email from Dr. Benway - 1/6/21

    OTHS Students, Families, and Employees,

    Due to staffing shortage concerns, school is cancelled for tomorrow.  Tomorrow, Friday,  January 1, 2021, will be handled in the same manner as an emergency closure for inclement weather.  In other words, there is no remote learning tomorrow as school is cancelled.  This cancelled school day will be made up On Friday, May 20, 2022.

    We encouraged students to take devices and materials that may be needed home this afternoon in the event the district would need to transition to a remote learning phase following the weekend.

    If such a transition to remote learning next week is determined necessary, OTHS will provide you with updated information before the end of the weekend.

    Thank you for your patience and understanding.  Please stay safe.

     

    Dr. Benway

  • Email from Dr. Benway - January 4th, 2022

    Happy New Year to OTHS Students and Families!

    I am excited for 2022 and for the school semester we have ahead of us.  Of course, 2022 is presenting a few challenges for schools related to the COVID-19 pandemic, but OTHS is prepared and ready to address them.

    School leaders continue to monitor metrics regarding the recent surge in COVID-19 cases.  When appropriate COVID-19 safety protocols are followed, public health officials still believe schools are safe places to be, and that schools should be providing in-person instruction.  OTHS is fortunate that we are not, at this time, experiencing some of the staffing issues of other area school districts, and we are able to continue with the start of second semester as planned.  As we know, circumstances related to COVID-19 can change quickly.  We will need to be prepared for a possible shift to remote in the future should circumstances warrant.  Due to the nature of the pandemic and timing of positive cases, there may be little opportunity to provide much advanced notice of changes, but OTHS will do its very best to alert you as soon as possible should any changes be necessary. Students should be encouraged to always have their tech devices with them in the event that the district is required to engage in remote instruction. Again, OTHS school leaders will continue to monitor positive cases and our ability to staff classrooms and buildings.  

    Last week the Center for Disease Control (CDC) issued new guidance regarding isolation timelines for positive cases for the general public. School officials believed this was good news for our students and staff who test positive for COVID-19.  However, in a follow up notification to school districts, the Illinois State Superintendent, Dr. Carmen Ayala, emailed school leaders to clarify that Illinois schools are still to follow the previous guidance as issued by the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH). In other words, the changes made by the CDC have not been adopted by IDPH for implementation in our schools.   Dr. Ayala stated that the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) and IDPH should be providing additional direction for schools in the near future.

    As you can imagine, this has become a controversial topic across the state. School leaders share in the frustration regarding the delay in response from IDPH and ISBE.  Based on Dr. Ayala’s current direction, school protocols for positive cases remain the same as they were to end first semester, with a 10-day isolation period for school staff and students who test positive for COVID-19. If schools are issued additional or revised guidance from ISBE and/or IDPH regarding COVID-19 isolation/quarantine/exclusion, OTHS will share that information as soon as it is received.

    OTHS’s ability to continue to provide in-person instruction and extracurricular opportunities to our students depends on our parent-student-school partnership.  Please exercise due diligence and check students for symptoms every day.  Anyone having symptoms of illness should not attend school or school activities.  Those individuals having symptoms specific to COVID-19 should be tested and careful not to expose others.  For COVID-19 questions, you may contact the OTHS COVID-19 nurse, Gina Wright, at wrightg@oths.us or (618) 632-3507 x610.  Students who are unwell and attend school are jeopardizing not only their health, but also the health and well-being of the entire campus community.  Please, let’s all take good care of each other.  Your vigilance in supporting safety protocols is an important part of reducing the spread of COVID-19 in our school buildings.  Your partnership in daily self-health evaluation will assist us in our ability to provide in-person instruction.  In addition please support and follow other COVID-19 safety mitigation strategies put in place by OTHS:

    • If not feeling well, STAY HOME.  If symptoms are specific to COVID-19, please get tested. 
    • Mask.  Mask appropriately.  Masks should cover nose and mouth.  Nose pieces should be securely pinched around the nose. Parents/guardians, please have conversation with your student regarding the need to keep their mask worn properly while at school.
    • Social distance. Social distance to the greatest extent possible.  Students can take advantage of the social distanced section of each cafeteria if they wish to maintain greater distance while eating.
    • Hand Sanitization.  Wash hands, sanitize hands, and encourage others to sanitize hands.

    Reminder of COVID-19 symptoms:

    • Fever or chills
    • Cough
    • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
    • Fatigue
    • Muscle or body aches
    • Headache
    • New loss of taste or smell
    • Sore throat
    • Congestion or runny nose
    • Nausea or vomiting
    • Diarrhea

    As we move further into 2022, I am confident in our ability to collectively meet the challenges that lie ahead. Please be understanding with school personnel as they continue to work to serve all OTHS students to the best of their ability. Finally, I ask for your continued patience and support as we make every effort to maintain in-person learning and extracurricular opportunities this semester.

    Yours for Excellence in Education,

    Dr. Darcy G. Benway, Superintendent

  • E-Mail from Dr. Benway - 11/18/21

    OTHS Parents, Guardians, Students, and Employees,

    It’s hard to believe we are entering the holiday season.  I wanted to share a few items worth noting as we approach our fall break next week.

    INCLEMENT WEATHER

    As temperatures continue to drop and inclement weather is on the horizon, attached please find a document that contains the most frequently asked questions regarding school closures and related district procedures (Inclement Weather FAQ ). 

    MENTAL HEALTH

    The pandemic has been a contributing factor to the increase of mental health concerns within our campus community.  We understand that some of our students and staff members may be struggling at this time.  Please take a moment to visit the OTHS social worker page on our web site (Social Work Page). This page contains a list of resources available to support a variety of mental health needs.  As the holiday season can be especially difficult for some, we ask for your partnership to help us identify those who may be in crisis.  Please don’t hesitate to reach out to a member of our social work team or a school administrator if your think a someone may be struggling with mental health issues.

    COVID-19

    Health officials are concerned about the possibility of another surge of COVID-19 as we enter cold and flu season.  Your OTHS school leaders have implemented numerous COVID-19 safety mitigations in an effort to be able to maintain in-person instruction.  We are asking for your help as we move forward. 

    In recent weeks we have noted that some of our students continue to enter campus while being symptomatic of illness.  In some cases, students have chosen to be tested for COVID-19 due to their symptoms, but still attend classes and participate in activities while waiting for their results.

    For the safety of the entire campus community, we ask that individuals who are ill to please stay home, regardless of vaccination status.  If an individual has symptoms known to be related to COVID-19, we encourage testing and the receipt of a negative result before returning to school.  If an individual has been exposed to another having COVID-19 and is experiencing symptoms, please contact the OTHS COVID-19 Coordinator, Nurse Gina Wright, at wrightg@oths.us or 618-632-3507 x 610.

    It is our responsibility to keep each other safe to the greatest extent possible.  Thank you in advance for helping to keep our students healthy and to keep OTHS in the status of in-person learning.

    FIRST SEMESTER FINAL EXAMS

    Final exams for first semester will be held on Friday, December 17th, Monday, December 20th and Tuesday, December 21st.  Attached please find a document that provides additional information regarding the final exam schedule (Final Exam Info)  In addition, more information regarding district policies and procedures regarding final exams can be found in the OTHS Student Handbook on page 37 (student handbook).  It is important to remember that a doctor’s excuse or other third-party documentation, as approved in advance by the administration, is required for students to be absent on final exam days.

    FINAL THOUGHT

    As a final thought, I wanted to share with you how personally thankful I am this year. 

    I am thankful that our students are engaged with in-person instruction and are experiencing the normalcy of high school.   

    I am grateful to work with parents and the OTHS community where families are supportive of the schools and where education is valued.  

    I am thankful for the dedicated educators we have here at OTHS --- teachers, administrators, support staff, and board members --- who put the collective needs of our students first, and who make OTHS the great school that it is. 

    Finally, because of a small “bump in the road” related to my health this past spring, I was afraid my service to OTHS may not continue.  I am very thankful to be healthy and to be able to continue to serve OTHS as your superintendent.  I am proud to be a Panther.

    I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving.

    Dr. Benway

  • Email from Dr. Benway - 10/14/21

    Good Afternoon Students, Parents, Guardians, and Employees,

    The school year is in full swing.  It is hard to believe that we will soon be entering into the holiday season.  We are excited to be fully engaged with in-person learning, events, and activities this school year.  With that said, there are a few items to note as we move forward:

    SCHOOL SAFETY

    This morning the administration was made aware of a post circulating on social media regarding a threat to an unidentified school.  The origin of the post is unknown and appears to be linked to a state or school district out east.  While this threat does not mention any O’Fallon/Shiloh school, or school in our area, we wanted our community to be aware.  It is a good time to remind ourselves that we all must participate in efforts toward school safety.  It is important that we pay attention to our surroundings and to report any concerning behaviors or issues.

    We appreciate the O’Fallon Police Department for raising our awareness to this situation.  As always, the safety of our students and staff are our utmost priority. 

    Any threat directed toward OTHS or its students and staff will be taken seriously and will be addressed accordingly.

    SCHOOL ENVIRONMENT

    As we continue moving toward normalcy in our schools, we have experienced the opportunity to re-acclimate to being back in school full time, to the rigors of classwork, to the excitement of activities, and to the necessary rules to maintain an orderly and positive educational environment in our school.  We are asking students to recommit to the following rules for the betterment of OTHS:

    • Proper Wearing of IDs – This is a safety measure that identifies someone who may not belong in our schools.  Students and staff must display IDs on the outside of their clothing at all times during the school day.
    • Proper Wearing of Masks – This is a pandemic safety measure imposed by Governor Pritzker in collaboration with the Illinois Department of Public Health.  Masks must be worn at all times when in the school buildings and must cover both the nose and mouth
    • Proper Dress Code - The purpose of the OTHS dress code is to prepare student for life after OTHS.  We realize that fashions change and the latest fashions may be in conflict with the established standards of dress for the school day.  If a student wishes to enter the military upon graduation, there is a required dress code/uniform. If a student wishes to work in a hospital, law firm, accounting office, real estate office, etc., there is an expected standard of dress for many professions. For students planning for a future in the trades, with an engineering group, or as a first responder, there is a dress code or uniform expectation. School leaders view high school as the transitional step between childhood and becoming an adult. All rules and expectations represent our efforts to prepare students for what happens after graduation. School officials hope to instill an awareness about what constitutes appropriate dress in varying situations. The OTHS dress code can be found in the student handbook on the district’s web site. It is a very general dress code and is much less restrictive than many other schools.  We ask students and parents to support our efforts to prepare students for their future.
    • Proper Language and Respect – OTHS will not tolerate inappropriate or foul language from students or OTHS employees, whether directed at an individual or spoken in general conversation.  In addition, instances of disrespect will also not be tolerated.  These rules are designed to create a positive culture and supportive environment at OTHS. 

    Please note that school leaders are aware of social media trends that challenge students to misbehave.  We are proud of our OTHS students who are making the right choices.  We appreciate and admire the maturity, unselfishness, and positive efforts shown by nearly all of our students.  We greatly appreciate parent/guardian support in our efforts to maintain the safe and productive educational environment we have here at OTHS.

    YEARBOOKS

    The 2021 OTHS Panther Yearbook will be available for pick up next week.  Due to production issues and difficulty in obtaining student pictures, the yearbook does not contain the content that it typically would during a non-pandemic school year. We apologize for the delay in distribution.  We are also disappointed that the circumstances of the pandemic resulted in a yearbook of lesser quality than desired for our OTHS community.

    Accordingly, the district will refund 50% of the price paid for each yearbook.  The OTHS Business Office will mail refund checks to the address on file with the District by the end of November for those who purchased yearbooks.  If your address has changed, please email the Business Office at businessoffice@oths.us with the correct mailing address by Monday, November 1, 2021. 

    Yearbooks can be picked up at OTHS beginning on Wednesday, October 20, 2021.  Details regarding the distribution of yearbooks will be forthcoming from the yearbook staff.

    Finally, we wish all of our students and families the best as we continue into the 2021-2022 school year.  Thank you for your partnership and support of OTHS.

     

    Yours for Excellence in Education,

    Dr. Darcy G. Benway, Superintendent

  • Guidance Correspondence 10/12/21

    The OTHS Guidance Office is gearing up for the 2022-2023 course selection process for current 11th grade students. We appreciate your patience as school counselors’ work to meet individually with each student to select his/her courses starting next week and concluding on/around December 10th. Additional information regarding the course selection process may be accessed on the attached parent letter. 
     
    To best prepare students for the course selection meeting, we ask for your assistance with the following:
    • Review the senior course selection sheet found HERE. Students will also receive a copy of this form during advisory this week. Take the time to have a discussion with your child about their interests, likes and current grades in classes to assist them in selecting courses for next year.
    • Review course descriptions and pre-requisites in the OTHS Curriculum Guide.
    • Complete the attached Course Request Form with your child. Have them keep this completed form with them for easy retrieval when they meet with a school counselor.
    Once the course selection meeting has occurred and course requests are entered into Skyward, students and parents may view future year course requests in Family Access by clicking on “Request Courses for 2022-2023 in Smiley Campus”. Students may make changes to future year course requests throughout the school year and prior to the first day of school in August 2022.
     
    Thank you for your cooperation in this process. Should you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to the OTHS Guidance Department.
     
    Thank you,
     
    Tiffany Lugge
    Director of Guidance
    O'Fallon Township High School
    600 S. Smiley St.
    O'Fallon, IL 62269
    (618) 632-3507, ext 369
     

    Dear 9th grade students and families,

     

    The OTHS Guidance Office is gearing up for the 2022-2023 course selection process for current 9th grade students. We appreciate your patience as school counselors work to meet individually with each student to select his/her courses starting next week and concluding on/around December 10th. Additional information regarding the course selection process may be accessed on the attached parent letter. 

     

    To best prepare students for the course selection meeting, we ask for your assistance with the following:

    • Review the sophomore course selection sheet found HERE. Take the time to have a discussion with your child about their interests, likes and current grades in classes to assist them in selecting courses for next year.
    • Review course descriptions and pre-requisites in the OTHS Curriculum Guide.
    • Complete the attached Course Request Form with your child. Have them keep this completed form in their book bag for easy retrieval when they meet with a school counselor.

    Once the course selection meeting has occurred and course requests are entered into Skyward, students and parents may view future year course requests in Family Access by clicking on “Request Courses for 2022-2023 in Smiley Campus”. Students may make changes to future year course requests throughout the school year and prior to the first day of school in August 2022.

     

    Thank you for your cooperation in this process. Should you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to the OTHS Guidance Department.

     

    Thank you,

     

    Tiffany Truran Lugge

    Director of Guidance

    O'Fallon Township High School

    600 S. Smiley St.

    O'Fallon, IL 62269

    (618) 632-3507, ext 369

    9th Grade Parent Letter

    Sophomore Scheduling Request Form

     

  • Email Sent 9/20/21

    Parents, Guardians, Community Members, and OTHS Employees:

    At OTHS, we always strive to improve upon the great things happening in our high school. As one of the many initiatives to create open communications with our stakeholders, the OTHS Board of Education and Administration hold "Conversations over Coffee" events.  The purpose of these meetings is to provide an opportunity for stakeholders to engage in dialogue and/or to learn more about OTHS.  The Board of Education and Administration work diligently to improve upon the tradition of excellence in education that we have at OTHS.  In an effort to be responsive to those we serve, we are reaching out to you and inviting you to provide input to guide the direction of education for our students at the high school level. 

    Please join members of the OTHS Board of Education and the OTHS Administration to have "CONVERSATIONS OVER COFFEE" on Tuesday, September 21, 2021, from 5:15 pm to 6:30 pm in the Smiley Campus IMC.

    Members of your OTHS school board, the superintendent, and other members from the OTHS administration will be available to address questions, concerns, or to engage in casual conversation about education and OTHS.  Please consider stopping by OTHS on your way home from work to take a moment to let us know your thoughts and ideas.  We want to hear from you.

    Please note, you do not have to commit to the entire 75 minutes of conversation.  You may come and go as it works in your schedule.  We hope you will be able to share a few moments of your time to chat with us and to participate in guiding OTHS to even higher levels of performance. 

     

    Yours for Excellence in Education,

    Dr. Darcy G. Benway, Superintendent

  • Email Sent 9/17/21

     

    OTHS Parents and Guardians:

    In recent days, schools in the metro area have identified an increase in vandalism by students.  These incidents are believed to be the result of the latest social media craze – the TikTok Bathroom Challenge.  This challenge promotes vandalism in school restrooms by students.

    Unfortunately, we have experienced this very costly and disruptive vandalism at OTHS.

    I am reaching out to our school community to share information regarding the manner in which we will address this type of vandalism.  Any students participating in vandalism on school property will be subject to disciplinary measures. Per our Student Handbook,

    VANDALISM: Intentional damage to the school building, its equipment, school grounds, or school property is intolerable. Vandalism of vehicles on school grounds is a criminal offense with criminal consequences. Vandalism of any kind related to any OTHS activity may result in restitution and/or criminal charges. Any act of vandalism will be subject to the following penalties:

    1. Restitution for damages in lieu of arrest, or restitution plus arrest, depending on circumstances, and
    2. Up to a 10 day suspension and may result in a Disciplinary Review Hearing before the Board of Education which may potentially result in an expulsion

    School leaders intend to administer discipline and to press charges for this type of vandalism to the greatest extent possible.

    We will continue to monitor student usage of our bathrooms.  In the event that these acts of vandalism continue, OTHS may be required to limit the number of bathrooms available for use.  I am saddened that a few of our students are making poor decisions that impact the entire school community.  We ask our parents/guardians to speak with your student(s) about the importance of respecting school property and/or reporting vandalism.  We want to continue our collaborative efforts to emphasize to our students the need to engage in positive behaviors as they approach adulthood.  OTHS wishes to partner with our students and families to foster pride in our school and in our community. 

    We appreciate your support and partnership

    Dr. Darcy G. Benway, Superintendent

  • Email Sent 9/9/21

    OTHS Students and Families:

    I hope all is going well with you and your families as begin the transition into the fall season.  It is great to have in-person instruction and to see OTHS fall sports and activities in full swing.

    I wanted to reach out today to provide you with some updates and information.

    1. OPEN HOUSE – OTHS is hosting its open house virtually this year

    Parents/Guardians can view general open house information about the Milburn and Smiley Campuses by viewing the video at the attached link [http://www.oths.us/openhouse].  Additional links can be found below the video.  Students and families can view specific class open house information on individual Blackboard pages for each course.  We have also provided information on students support services, extra-curricular opportunities, and athletic information.

    As always, we encourage parents/guardians to communicate directly with their student’s teachers if there are additional questions regarding the class, or if more information is requested about the course. We believe that such direct communication strengthens the parent-teacher partnership, which supports the academic success of the student.

    1. HOMECOMING

    School leaders are currently in the process of planning homecoming activities. More information should be coming in the near future as we work through logistics of hosting these activities during a pandemic.

    1. IMPORTANT UPCOMING DATES
    1. Education Committee Meeting

    Tuesday, September 14, 2021 from 4:30-5:30 pm in the Smiley IMC

    1. Finance Committee Meeting/Budget Hearing

    Thursday, September 16, 2021 from 4:00-5:00 pm in the Smiley IMC

    1. Facilities Committee Meeting

    Tuesday, September 21, 2021 from 4:00-5:00 pm the Smiley IMC

    1. Conversations Over Coffee

    Tuesday, September 21, 2021 from 5:15 to 6:30 pm the Smiley IMC

    1. 2021-2022 Budget Hearing

    Thursday, September 23, 2021 @ 7:00 pm the Smiley IMC

    1. Regular Meeting of the Board of Education

    Thursday, September 23, 2021 immediately following the Budget Hearing in the Smiley IMC (approximately 7:15 pm)

    1. GAP Committee Meeting

    Monday, September 26, 2021 from 6:00-7:00 pm the Smiley IMC

    1. No Student Attendance – Teacher Institute

    Friday, October 8, 2021

    1. No Student Attendance - Holiday

    Monday, October 11, 2021

    1. PSAT/NMSQT Testing Date

    Wednesday, October 13, 2021

    As always, please contact me if you have any questions or concerns.  Have a great evening.

    Dr. Darcy G. Benway, OTHS Superintendent

  • 8/27/21

    OTHS Students, Parents and Families:

    Happy Friday.  I hope you all have great plans for the weekend ahead.  I wanted to provide you with some updates for next week:

    MILBURN HVAC

    The District’s contracted service provider has made progress to improve the operational capacity of the HVAC system.  The system is not at 100% yet, but it is providing cooling at this time.  Room temperatures have been reasonable during the afternoons when checked. Parts to bring the HVAC system back up to 100% have been shipped.  They will be installed immediately upon their arrival. The good news is that temperatures are expected to drop back into the 80s next week.  The result is an expected lower heat index each day than we experienced this week.

    Therefore, the Milburn Campus will resume to its normal, full-day schedule starting on Monday, August 30th.

    SCHOOL LUNCHES

    The district has been working with our food service partner, Chartwells, to expand school lunch offerings to students.  Beginning on Monday, August 30th:

    • Additional serving lines will open with signage at each line stating what is being served. 
    • Entrees will remain pre-packaged/wrapped.  Side items (fruits and veggies) will continue to be bagged or wrapped but will be available for students to choose the items they prefer as opposed to the requirement of taking items they will not eat.  A complete meal of ½ cup fruit, vegetable or both and at least 2 other food groups (whole grain, lean protein, milk) will still be required for a free student lunch.
    • If an entrée line is being served for the day (ex: chicken nuggets, mashed potatoes, green beans) it will be served by an employee, behind a sneeze guard, and will be presented in a to-go box with lid.
    • A la carte items, including bottled water, will be available.  Other drink options will be added later in the week. [A La Carte Pricing FY2021-2022 ]

    Payments for food items will only be required for those items beyond that of the complete free student breakfast or lunch.  Revtrak, the District’s online payment program, has been activated to allow parents/guardians to add money to their students lunch account.  Students may also pay for additional food items at the cash registers using cash or check.   

    Please check the Food Service web page on the OTHS web site for additional information at https://oths.nutrislice.com/menus-eula.

    MENTAL HEALTH & WELLNESS

    This past Wednesday, August 25th, the OTHS faculty engaged in professional development during the afternoon on the identification of mental health and wellness indicators.   OTHS continues to be proactive in its supports to students and employees who may be struggling with mental wellness.  In addition, Governor Pritzker recently signed legislation that requires suicide prevention contact information be provided to students on any new student IDs. Therefore, any new or replacement ID printed will contain the following information:

    • Suicide Prevention Lifeline:  (800) 273-8255
    • Crisis Text Line:  Text HOME to 741741

    This information is also displayed on the home page of the district web site and will be provided monthly in the OTHS Daily Bulletin.  Other mental health resources are available on the social worker web page at https://www.oths.us/site/Default.aspx?PageID=758.  We care about our students and want to assist them if they are having difficult times.

    Thank you for your continued partnership and support.

    Have a wonderful weekend. 

     

    Dr. Darcy G. Benway, Superintendent

  • 8/25/21

    Good Afternoon,

    The OTHS Milburn Campus will continue to operate on a shortened school day schedule for the remainder of this week.  The schedule of classes at Milburn is as follows:

    The Smiley Campus will follow the normal full day schedule.

    The delivery of the equipment needed to fix the HVAC system at Milburn has been delayed by the shipper.  

    We apologize for the inconvenience and hope to return Milburn to the normal schedule on Monday, August 30th.

    Thank you for your support as we continue to work through this issue.

     

    Dr. Darcy G. Benway, OTHS Superintendent

  • 8/18/21

    OTHS Students, Parents, and Employees:

    First I want to apologize to our Milburn students, faculty, and staff who have attended the past few school days in very uncomfortable conditions.  The Milburn HVAC system is not operating properly.  Thanks to our OTHS Milburn Campus community for keeping a positive attitude as we are working through this issue. 

    Second, I wanted to provide you with information regarding our plan to address the HVAC system as we move forward.  Beginning tomorrow, August 19, 2021, the Milburn campus will operate under a shortened school day.   The schedule is shown below.  This is the same schedule that was used last year.  This will allow for school to be released prior to the heat of the day when room temperatures become too uncomfortable to hold classes.  The offices at Milburn will remain open for the normal day.

    Milburn students will be able to access a grab-and-go lunch at the end of the school day to take home.

    The Smiley Campus Schedule will remain unchanged with dismissal at 2:55 pm.

    The HVAC issue was discussed with the Board of Education Facility Committee meeting last night.  School leaders had hoped the Milburn Campus could limp through the remainder of the week before going to a shortened schedule, but temps today are not cooperating.  Information regarding the Milburn HVAC system is as follows:

    • The HVAC system was impacted by a lightning strike on Thursday which disabled two compressors and a control board.
    • The OTHS Facilities Director has been working with the district's contracted HVAC vendor to fix the impacted compressors and control board.  Parts have been ordered.  It is anticipated the system will be fixed mid-week of next week.
    • It is planned that the Milburn campus will resume its normal schedule late next week.  The district will send out schedule updates as they become known and finalized.
    • The Board of Education Facilities Committee authorized the architect and engineering firms to spec a new system to replace the existing one.  
    • The short term goal will be to have the system operation mid next week.  Classrooms most impacted by the heat have been relocated.  Fans have been placed in all classrooms impacted.
    • The long term, permanent solution will be to have the necessary system upgrades/replacements in place no later than fall of 2022. 

    Thank you for your patience and understanding as the District works through this issue.

    Dr. Darcy G. Benway, OTHS Superintendent

  • 8/13/21

    Good Morning, OTHS Families,

    What an exciting and energizing first day at OTHS.  We are thrilled to have the students back in the buildings, they have been truly missed.  Thank you for entrusting your students to us. 

    This e-mail is to notify you of a change to the calendar.  Wednesday, August 25th,  is an early release day for OTHS students.  The Milburn Campus will release at 11:30 and the Smiley Campus will release at noon.  Bus service will be provided at 11:30 and 12:00 respectively.  Lunches will be available for students on a grab and go basis.  Athletics and extracurricular information will be communicated to their members by individual coaches. 

    To all of our families, Welcome Back!

    Martha Weld, Assistant Superintendent

  • OTHS Parents and Guardians:

    Welcome to the 2021-2022 school year!  I hope you and your student(s) had a wonderful summer and are ready to get back into the routine of a school year.  OTHS employees have been working diligently throughout the summer to prepare our buildings and to plan for the arrival of our students.

    Last night, the OTHS Board of Education approved the Return to Learn Framework for 2021-2022.  I have attached the Framework for your convenience: Return To Learn Framework 2021-2022 .  We all here at OTHS had hoped that COVID would be behind us at this time and that COVID planning would not have been necessary.  School leaders believe that the Illinois State Board of Education will be releasing additional information in the next few days to clarify the required expectations for schools during this time of COVID.  With that being said, the Return to Learn Framework may require revisions as additional information becomes available and as circumstances related to COVID evolve.

    All of us at OTHS are looking forward to partnering with you to ensure your student has every opportunity to reach his/her highest potential in academic achievement and in personal development.  Together, we share in the responsibility for his/her success.  We are fortunate to live in a community where families are invested in their students and that values and encourages education.  We all must continue to do our very best to guide, support, encourage, and inspire students as they continue their journey toward adulthood.  In the educational partnership, your parental influence and involvement is very important, especially during the high school years and we are grateful for the family support we receive.  We ask for your continued partnership for maximum student academic achievement and personal growth by encouraging your student:

    • to attend school daily and arrive on time, ready for the day’s learning experience
    • to complete all homework and study assignments, and to participate in classroom discussions
    • to get involved in extracurricular opportunities
    • to read daily to develop a love for reading and to improve literacy skills
    • to share school and life experiences with you so that you are aware of any challenges that may arise
    • to inform you, a teacher, or administrator if he/she needs additional social/emotional support or additional academic support 

    Together, we will assist your student in their journey toward college, or in their preparation to join the workforce or the military. You can follow your student’s academic progress through Skyward by clicking the Skyward button below the picture on the OTHS web site (https://www.oths.us/).

    To help you stay informed, the OTHS website will always have information and announcements about events and happenings at school.   You can also follow OTHS on both Facebook and Twitter. 

    Facebook:  OTHS – O’Fallon Township High School District 203 (@OTHSDistrict203)

    Twitter: OTHS District 203 (@OTHSDistrict203)

    Reminder, the first day of student attendance is Thursday, August 12, 2021.

    Below please find some additional resources:

    I am excited for the 2021-2022 school year and look forward to seeing our students, teachers, and support staff in our buildings next week.

    Have a great year!

    Dr. Darcy G. Benway, OTHS Superintendent

If you are having trouble viewing the document, you may download the document.
  • Dear Colleagues: 

     

    Governor JB Pritzker announced an Executive Order today that supports safe in-person learning and requires that masks be worn indoors by all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention strengthened its guidance last week for universal indoor masking in schools, and Illinois will continue to follow the science, data, and public health experts to keep students in school and keep communities safe. We know that consistent and correct mask use is the simplest, most effective way to keep students safely in school, where they can learn and grow to their fullest potential. 

     

    The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and ISBE will issue updated guidance to reflect this change. For more information, I encourage you to watch the Governor’s press conference.  

     

    All schools in the state of Illinois also now have access to free COVID-19 screening testing through the IDPH. Learn more from IDPH.

     

    For our students, families, and educators who are eligible, vaccination remains the best protection against further spread. Vaccination is effective in preventing severe illness, hospitalization, and death and is effective against the Delta variant. As trusted leaders in your communities, I urge you to continue to promote and provide opportunities for your staff, families, and eligible students to receive the life-saving COVID-19 vaccine. A multitude of resources to help you share about vaccination opportunities are available at www.isbe.net/covid19.   

     

    Sincerely,  

    Dr. Carmen I. Ayala 

    State Superintendent of Education 

    Illinois State Board of Education 

  • ANY DISTRICT NEWS REGARDING OUR RETURN TO LEARN PLAN BELOW THIS LINE SHOULD BE CONSIDERED OUTDATED!!!!

    PLEASE REFER TO NEWER POSTS FOR UPDATED INFORMATION! 

If you are having trouble viewing the document, you may download the document.
  • OTHS Students, Families, and Employees:

    I hope you all are enjoying your summer and are finding time to spend with family and friends. It is hard to believe school will be starting in less than four weeks.  Although last year was a challenging time for all, we did get through it together.  We are excited about the 2021-2022 school year, and we believe it will more closely resemble a traditional school year.

    Recently the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), and the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) revised guidance regarding COVID mitigations in schools.  In her brief to schools on Friday, State Superintendent, Dr. Carmen Ayala, made the following declaration for Illinois public schools:

    "Beginning with the 2021-22 school year, all schools must resume fully in-person learning for all student attendance days, provided that, pursuant to 105 ILCS 5/10-30 and 105 ILCS 5/34-18.66, remote instruction be made available for students who have not received a COVID-19 vaccine or who are not eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine, only while they are under quarantine consistent with guidance or requirements from a local public health department or the Illinois Department of Public Health."

    In addition, Dr. Ayala highlights the following regarding masks per the CDC:

    "Masks should be worn indoors by all individuals (age 2 and older) who are not fully vaccinated. Consistent and correct mask use by people who are not fully vaccinated is especially important indoors and in crowded settings, when physical distancing cannot be maintained.”

    We have heard the IDPH and ISBE will be sending out a Frequently Asked Questions document, as the new CDC/IDPH/ISBE guidance generated many questions concerning the manner in which implementation of COVID mitigations will occur in schools.

    At this time, OTHS school leaders are working through the details of the new language and will provide a finalized, board-approved plan to our students, families, and employees as soon as we can.  Until that time, or until further direction is provided by CDC/IDPH/ISBE, OTHS will operate under the following procedures:

    1. Masks will be optional in school buildings for fully vaccinated individuals. 
    2. Individuals who are not fully vaccinated should wear masks at any time when in OTHS school buildings or when they are unable to appropriately social distance while on school grounds.
    3. Masks are still required on public transportation, thus on a school bus.
    4. OTHS will not be asking for proof of vaccinations at this time.
    5. Individuals who have symptoms of illness are asked to refrain from coming to OTHS.

    With the new guidance being released only late Friday afternoon, there are still many details to be worked out by school districts.  School officials have multiple meetings this week that should enable us to provide greater clarification to our families and employees in the near future.  Your patience and support as we work through the implementation details for the start of school is greatly appreciated.

    Please remember, safety is always our first priority at OTHS.  School officials will continue to monitor COVID data and review guidance as it changes and evolves.  Should OTHS experience a COVID outbreak traced to our buildings, safety mitigations such as universal mask wearing may have to be reinstated.  We need to be ready to shift into approriate mitigation strategies based upon the status of the pandemic in our community.

    Again, I know there are still many questions.   We wanted to inform you of the procedures we are currently following. We intend to provide more a detailed plan and to have answers to many of the questions as soon as wecan.  Your Board of Education and Administration are working diligently to provide a great educational experience for the students, families, and employees we serve.

    More information will be forthcoming.

    As always, please don't hesitate to reach out to me at benwayd@oths.us  

     

    Dr. Darcy G. Benway, Superintendent

  • 6/15/21

    Good Afternoon, OTHS Families,

    We hope this e-mail finds you well and enjoying summer activities with friends and family.

    We are reaching out to share information on the two most commonly asked questions for next school year. 

    Will a remote option be available for the 2021-22 school year?

    No, there will be no remote learning option for academic year 2021-2022.  The Illinois State Board of Education unanimously approved a “Resolution to Support In Person Learning” in regards to school year 2021-22.   As communicated in the ISBE resolution, ISBE expects all Illinois school districts to return to full in-person instruction in the Fall.   A copy of the resolution is attached for your reference.

    According to the resolution, “Beginning with the 2021-22 school year, all schools must resume fully in-person learning for all student attendance days, provided that, pursuant to 105 ILCS 5/10-30 and 105 ILCS 5/34-18.66, remote instruction be made available for students who are not eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine and are under a quarantine order by a local public health department or the Illinois Department of Public Health.” 

    OTHS will therefore not offer a remote option for the 2021-22 school year unless a student is both ineligible for a vaccine and is under a quarantine order. 

    Will OTHS return to full school days?

    Yes.  The school day will be from 7:30 AM – 2:25 PM at Milburn and 8:00 AM – 2:55 PM at Smiley.  We look forward to having our students on campus next year for full academic days.

    There are a number of unanswered questions regarding expectations for next year and we ask for your patience as we develop and plan for a very exciting 21-22 school year. 

    Wishing you all the joys of summer,