Dear District 97 Families,
Thank you for your extraordinary support over the past several days as we have worked together to protect our community during the growing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. In order to further safeguard Illinois from the spread of the virus, Gov. JB Pritzker announced on Friday mandatory school closures for all public and private schools from March 17 through March 30. These days will be considered by the state as “Act of God” days.
District 97 is committed to doing what is best for the children of Oak Park, while understanding the unprecedented challenges this school closure creates for our families. Our goal is to provide continuity of learning for our students to the very best of our ability. With this in mind, we have created a Remote Learning (E-Learning) Plan that we plan to utilize during this closure. Here is the schedule for the next two weeks:
- Monday, March 16 - Friday, March 20: Remote Learning (E-Learning)
- Monday, March 23 - Friday, March 27: Spring Break
- Monday, March 30: Remote Learning (E-Learning)
Currently, we anticipate reopening on March 31. However, this is a rapidly-evolving situation, so we encourage families and staff to prepare for the possibility of an extended closure. We are receiving updates from health officials and the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), and we will update you promptly should our plans change. We are also working closely with local agencies to compile resources for families, and will post that information on our district website.
For remote learning — Assignments will be available every morning for a variety of subjects—both digital and non-digital—totaling approximately five hours of work. Materials and instructions will be shared by 8 a.m. for elementary schools and 9 a.m. for middle schools on each building’s Remote Learning page (www.op97.org/remotelearning). Your child’s teacher will be available for a minimum of two hours every day for office hours and support. Times will be communicated by each teacher. Teachers may provide feedback to students, but—per ISBE guidelines—work cannot be formally graded since these are not official Instructional Days. We know that these days will look different for every family, so please be assured that there will be flexibility and understanding around students completing assignments.
To supplement these services, we encourage you to engage your children in other free, online educational activities. ISBE has compiled a library of resources at www.isbe.net/keeplearning. Additional resources will be posted on our website early this week.
For District 97 students who receive free and reduced lunch — Shelf-stable meals for March 16-20 will be available for pickup on Monday, March 16, from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Longfellow Elementary School (Lobby) and Brooks Middle School (Commons). Families may choose the location that is most convenient for them.
I want to thank our staff, families and community for all they have done over the past few days in support of our students. We will continue to provide you with regular updates as the situation evolves. For the latest information and resources related to coronavirus, please visit our district website (https://www.op97.org/updatecenter/index), and please monitor your email and phone for messages from the district. Updates from the Village of Oak Park can be found at https://www.oak-park.us/news/covid-19-coronavirus-resources.
Dr. Carol Kelley
Additional Resources to Support Children During School Closures
Concern over this new virus can make children anxious. It is very important to remember that children look to adults for guidance on how to react to stressful events. If adults seem overly worried, children's anxiety may rise. Adults should reassure children that health and school officials are working hard to ensure that people throughout the country stay healthy.
Children also need factual, age-appropriate information about the potential seriousness of disease risk, so the focus of conversation should be concrete instructions about how to avoid infections and the spread of disease. Teaching children positive measures, talking with them about their fears, and giving them a sense of some control over their risk of infections can help reduce anxiety. Please talk with your children about precautions they can take to stay healthy, including:
- Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially if they are visibly dirty. An alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol is a suitable alternative. Consider showing your children one of these videos about proper handwashing technique: www.cdc.gov/handwashing.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands.
- Stay home if you are able to stay home. Avoid travel if you can.
The National Association of School Psychologists has additional guidelines about talking to children about COVID-19 at http://bit.ly/2TPmE1g.