Information For those Community Members who do not receive Skyward Emails
Yesterday was quite a different day around the country. Major professional sports leagues, March Madness, universities, colleges, and even other States implementing state-wide public schools announcing shutdowns and closures.
There was a period of several hours that many superintendents believed that Illinois would follow suit. It became evident in Gov. Pritzker’s 5pm address that Illinois is not using a layered approach at this time. But things can, and have changed very rapidly during the last week. Michigan closed schools at an 11:00pm press conference last night. Kentucky has closed schools, along with Ohio and others. Closing schools is a double-edged sword. Weighing the in-session staff and student transmission concerns regarding COVID19 against the lost educational and social service opportunities, combined with stress on the employment sector is a difficult one for a State Governor to make, let alone school district superintendents.
In our district, plans have been in place for the “what now” moment of snap closure. With the current reprieve, as short it may or may not be, we can calmly and methodically share the district plan with our school community.
Up until yesterday at 5:00 pm, The State required a series of hoops that a district had to jump through before submitting an E-Learning plan for approval. Between Tuesday at 5pm and Thursday at 5pm, we were jumping through them as quickly as time allowed. At 5:00 pm yesterday, all of the major and time-bound hoops were set aside by the State. The granting of greater flexibility is greatly appreciated.
Our plan, like those of other districts, will look simple and easy from the outside. It is not. Providing relevant learning via an alternative setting paper packet or via E-learning/virtual lessons is not something many staff members are accustomed to. Additionally, our students are familiar with a digital environment in which a teacher is in the room for guidance. This will not be the case if we are designated to close. Email communication will become the norm.
If the State of Illinois determines that schools should be shuttered for multiple weeks as part of a layered approach to slow the number of infections, we will be ready to provide out-of building learning opportunities. These opportunities will not start off perfect, but our staff will do their best to learn from each virtual lesson and planned paper packet, to evolve what and how they offer out-of-building learning opportunities. Additionally, if a designated closure happens, we will spend the first two (or more) days creating and preparing lessons. The first couple of days will feel like snow days.
Additionally, plans are in place to provide breakfast and lunch to our students.
We are in uncharted territory. Pandemic, in the US, schools closing for extended periods of time, no March Madness or professional sports etc etc. Even with all of that, there are tried and true measures everyone can take to lower the risk of getting, or sharing the virus:
1. Wash your hands frequently.
2. Do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth.
3. Do not share food or drinks.
4. Avoid our social norm of hand shakes.
5. If you feel sick or your child feels sick stay home. Stay home longer than you normally would.
6. Be cognizant of elderly and medically fragile relatives.
7. Stay informed on the virus itself through numerous unbiased sources: local, national, and international.
As information changes, I will do my very best to keep our school community informed.
Giving our best for your/our students,