Dear District 97 Community,
On Tuesday afternoon, Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker announced that the state’s stay-at-home order would be extended through April 30 due to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. As a result, schools will remain closed through the end of April and will provide instruction to students through Remote Learning Days.
Although we are incredibly disappointed to share this news, we understand that this action is necessary to minimize the spread of the virus and protect the capacity of our state’s healthcare system.
We realize the tremendous amount of stress and anxiety that this school closure has placed on families. We want to assure you that we are here to support you, and we will continue working to ensure that every District 97 student remains safe, healthy, fed, and engaged in learning.
Under the emergency rules for remote learning issued by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) on Friday, all school districts were required to transition from Act of God Days to Remote Learning Days beginning March 31. Like Act of God Days, Remote Learning Days count toward the minimum length of the school year and do not need to be made up. Additionally, districts may use up to five Remote Planning Days for staff, without providing instruction to students. These days also count toward the minimum length of the school year.
District administrators have been working with leaders from the Oak Park Teachers’ Association to develop a Remote Learning Plan that reflects the values of our community and prioritizes the health and well-being of students, families and staff. We are also working to identify dates for our Remote Planning Days. We are finalizing the details of our plan today, and will share more information and guidance with you as soon as possible.
In the meantime, families should plan for remote learning to occur every weekday in April, with the exception of any Remote Learning Planning Days (TBD) and Friday, April 10, which is a district holiday.
Please continue to monitor the district website (https://www.op97.org/coronavirus), your email and phone for updates from the district. We also encourage families to stay connected through Facebook and Twitter.
Finally, I want to end with a message Gov. Pritzker shared today, specifically for students:
“I won’t try and tell you not to be sad about the lost goals and plans you had for March and April – it’s okay to be sad. And if you do feel sad, or frustrated, or angry – whatever you feel – please: let yourself feel that way. Don’t beat yourself up over being human ... But I also want to say: once you’re ready, take a look around. Take in the incredibly unique moment that you’re living in. Yes, it’s scary and uncertain and difficult. But if you’re looking for a lesson in the fundamental goodness of your community – it’s there ... No, it’s not the school year you bargained for, and I’m sorry for that. But amidst these dire circumstances, I want you to know there’s plenty of people to learn from. There’s plenty of reason to hope.”
I continue to be amazed by the resilience and goodness of our District 97 community as we work together to support our students. I appreciate you, and I am confident that we will get through this challenging time together.
Dr. Carol Kelley