Dear District 97 Community,
In our weekly newsletter on Friday, the district shared that we were currently working through the logistics to expand in-person instructional time for our students. During our March 23 board meeting, I shared our tentative plan to welcome on-site students back for full days:
- Week of April 12: All District 97 staff report on site for the full work day; students in multi-needs and instructional classrooms transition to full days of on-site learning.
- Week of April 26: Elementary students (K-5) will transition to full-day on-site instruction.
- Week of May 2: Middle school students (6-8) will transition to full days on-site instruction.
Click here for the meeting recording. (The back-to-school update begins at 1:32:20.)
While we are currently working through key logistics to make these transitions possible, we wanted to provide our community with our tentative timeline to give staff and parents as much time as possible to prepare. We anticipate sharing more concrete details about the schedules once we return from spring break.
A few important notes:
- This decision has been made based on the Revised Public Health Guidance for Schools published by IDPH and ISBE, updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control, input from medical experts, and the progress we have made with staff vaccinations.
- The district will continue to offer full-time remote learning for students through the end of the 2020-21 school year (via live streaming).
- The district will not have another open enrollment for on-site learning. However, we have developed equity-based criteria that would allow us to provide exceptions for those who wish to switch to in-person learning (see below). As a part of this process, we are still seeking to maintain our current models of social distancing, meaning that it is possible that not all requests can be honored. Information has been shared directly with families based on the established criteria.
In order to increase on-site instruction, we will need to hire a large number of lunchroom supervisors. This is truly a community effort; if you are able to support District 97 as a lunchroom supervisor, it will have a direct impact on our ability to lengthen the school day. Click here to learn more and apply.
Finally, while this represents a big step forward in our goal of providing more on-site learning opportunities for students, we do recognize that this will be another big shift for our District 97 community. Please know that we will continue to prioritize the safety of our students and staff by following our safety mitigation plans and closely monitoring guidance from public health experts.
We are confident that we can all work together in support of our learners—whether on site or remote—and ensure that we have a safe and successful end to the school year.
Dr. Carol Kelley
Equity-Based Considerations for Exceptions
Prior to our decision to extend the school day, school and district administrators developed equity-based criteria that would accommodate families who were seeking to change their child's learning selection from remote to in person for Trimester 3.
As a part of this process, we are still seeking to maintain our current models of social distancing. This means that it is possible that not all requests can be honored based on our current distancing model. However, should we continue to revisit social distance models, requests will be considered in the order it was received.
To that end, the district, in alignment with the Equity Policy adopted in March of 2019, is prioritizing the following groups for exceptions to our learning selection protocol and practices:
- Students with disabilities (inclusive of students with academic 504 plans, students with Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) and students currently moving through the evaluation process for an IEP), in alignment with the D97 Equity Policy
- Students eligible for tiered interventions who require academic and/or social-emotional supports outside of the classroom
- Black and Latinx students, in alignment with the D97 Equity Policy (given the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on families of color)
- Students who are chronically absent (absences that total 10% or more of school days of the most recent academic school year, including absences with and without valid cause)
- Students who present with limited engagement as outlined using the continuum of engagement from The Distance Learning Playbook, K-12 by Douglas Fisher, Nancy Frey and John Hattie
- Students in prekindergarten and kindergarten
- Students who receive free or reduced lunch, in alignment with the D97 Equity Policy
- Teacher and/or administrator recommendation
If you would like to request a return to on-site learning for your child/children, please submit your request directly to the building principal. We are currently planning for an on-site return, if your request is approved, on April 7, 2021, for elementary school students and on April 12, 2021 for middle school students.