Planning Update for the 2020-21 School Year in District 97

Dear District 97 Community,

As we close out the final weeks of this unprecedented school year, we know our students, families and staff are already looking ahead to August and wondering what school might look like when we return. The pandemic that turned our education system on its head continues to evolve at a rapid pace, creating a great deal of uncertainty about the conditions we will be facing when we look to open schools in the fall.

We want to emphasize that we have not yet made any decisions regarding the 2020-21 school year. We are committed to doing everything we can to safely return to on-site learning to the extent that is possible, but our ability to open our buildings will be dependent on the most up-to-date guidance from the governor (Restore Illinois), the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH). As we await further direction from the state, we have already started planning for a number of scenarios that prioritize the health and safety of our students, staff, families and community. 

Transition Planning Update on Tuesday, May 26

District administrators will provide an update on our planning work during the May 26 board of education meeting, which will be held at 7 p.m. via Zoom. The meeting link and dial-in details will be posted with the agenda on Friday.

We will share a summary and recording of the presentation later next week. A general overview is included below.

Transition Planning Team

Earlier this month, District 97 assembled a transition planning team that is tasked with implementing a safe, efficient and equitable return to school in the fall of 2020. The team is focused on five key areas: Safety Protocols/Operations, District Calendar and Schedule Options, Learning Models, Social Emotional/Wellness Supports, and Financial Impact.

The sub-groups are meeting weekly to plan a number of viable scenarios for opening school, including, but not limited to:

  • Returning to on-site learning as we have in the past. This would require our region being in Phase 5 of the Restore Illinois plan.
  • Returning to on-site learning with adaptations. This could include a staggered schedule, and would likely require a hybrid model of remote and in-person instruction. This scenario would also require protocols to ensure social distancing and prevent the spread of illness. This would require our region being in at least Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois plan.
  • Continuing remote learning. We are already planning to utilize what we have learned this spring to improve our instruction moving forward. Our goal is to provide a positive, consistent and equitable experience for all of our students.

With all of these scenarios, we will consider the tremendous impact that COVID-19 has had on our students and will continue planning for the social-emotional support they may need in the coming months. 

Finally, we want to thank you for your patience, grace and understanding during this challenging time. We are committed to keeping the community updated on our work, and will continue to seek out stakeholder voice throughout our planning process this summer.


Dr. Carol Kelley