Earlier this week, the District 97 Board of Education scheduled a special board meeting for July 22 to provide further transparency around our planning for the 2020-21 school year. Our intent was to share more detailed information about our hybrid and remote learning plans, both of which we have been working to develop since the spring. The state has asked all districts—regardless of how they start the year—to prepare for a full return to remote learning in the fall should the metrics decline in our region.
While our team has been working through the logistics of our hybrid model over the past week, we have also been monitoring the uptick in COVID-19 cases locally and nationwide. We have heard serious concerns from our staff and families about returning to in-person learning, and there is speculation that stricter guidelines could be imposed at the state level to control the spread of the virus. These factors, combined with our desire to provide the best and safest learning environment possible for our students and staff, led to my announcement last night that I believe it is in the best interest of our district to focus our efforts toward a remote-only option in August. We would commit to this model for the first trimester only and continue developing our hybrid plans to prepare for an eventual safe return to onsite learning. (Click here for the full meeting recording.)
We believe it is in the best interest of our district to fully commit to this shift as soon as possible in order to provide our staff and families as much time as possible to prepare for a successful start to the school year. We are planning to hold a virtual information session for the community at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, July 27; details will be posted on our district website. Please click here to submit questions regarding the district’s remote learning plan.
I recognize that this shift may provide relief to some, but I also know that this is unwelcome news for others. We share our families’ desire to return to on-site learning as soon as possible, but we also believe we must continue to make decisions that prioritize the health and safety of not only the students and staff in our buildings, but the Oak Park community as a whole. My team and I are committed to working with our board, staff, families and community partners to ensure that all students are provided a safe and equitable learning experience this fall.
Dr. Carol Kelley
Remote Learning 2.0
Remote learning will look much different this fall than it did last spring, as our staff has been engaged in planning and professional development for the past several months in order to strengthen our instructional practices and provide consistent, high-quality learning experiences for all students. Some highlights of this work are captured in the district’s FAQ about Fall 2020, under the Remote Learning section. We are continuing to partner with our union leadership to finalize and fine-tune our updated Remote Learning Plan, and will incorporate the updated learning guidance provided by ISBE on July 23. We are also engaged in conversations with our community partners, who have indicated they are ready and willing to support our families with child care needs.
Remote Learning Request Form for Hybrid
To help us plan for Fall 2020, the district sent a Google form to all families Friday in order to determine whether they would be requesting a full remote learning option for their students for Trimester 1 (under the hybrid model). Although we have announced a shift toward a remote-only start, we are still requesting that parents complete this form to the best of their ability to indicate whether they would want their child to receive instruction remotely rather than onsite. This information will be helpful as we continue to plan for the hybrid model, which we plan to implement when the conditions support a safe return to in-person learning. If we do not receive a response by the end of the day, our numbers will be planned accordingly.