Dear District 97 Community,
We hope this message finds you well. As you know, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) released its guidance for the 2020-21 school year last week. The district’s planning team has been working to carefully review the 60-page document and determine how to implement the mandates in a plan that 1) prioritizes the health and safety of all District 97 students, families and staff, and 2) reflects our commitment to equity and high-quality instruction.
As of June 30, we have not made a final decision regarding our framework for reopening in the fall. Like most other school districts in the nation, District 97 has been exploring multiple options, including a blended/hybrid model, which may include students attending school on some days and distance learning on others. A scenario like this might be implemented to minimize the number of people together at one time and ensure compliance with the health and safety guidelines issued by ISBE and the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH). The five main requirements are:
- Require use of appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), including face coverings;
- Prohibit more than 50 individuals from gathering in one space;
- Require social distancing be observed as much as possible;
- Require that schools conduct symptom screenings and temperature checks or require that individuals self-certify that they are free of symptoms before entering school buildings or buses; and
- Require an increase in school-wide cleaning and disinfection.
During a small parent volunteer meeting Monday night—the purpose of which was to develop and administer a survey for families—it was shared that the district is seriously considering the hybrid option based on our analysis of the state’s health guidelines and the conditions that exist in each of our schools. No presentations or planning documents were shared during this meeting, as we have not yet made any final decisions regarding the fall. We apologize that details of our planning were shared prematurely and for the anxiety this may have caused.
We understand the enormous impact that our decisions have on our students, families and staff, and we take this planning process very seriously. The district is still working through each scenario, and carefully considering the feedback and recommendations we are receiving every day. We are planning to send out staff and family surveys by Wednesday to provide stakeholders the opportunity to share their thoughts, concerns and ideas with our team. Our plan is to share details of our reopening framework during our July 14 board of education meeting, however, the District 97 Board is also working to schedule an additional meeting next week in order to openly review and discuss the status of our plans. We will communicate the details of this meeting once it is scheduled.
Although this planning work is challenging, please know that we are committed to doing everything we can to return to on-site learning to the extent that is safe and feasible under the state’s health guidelines. We sincerely appreciate your patience and support throughout this pandemic, and look forward to sharing more comprehensive details about our plans in the days and weeks ahead. In the meantime, feedback can be shared with the district’s planning team via Let’s Talk (COVID-19/Planning for 2020-21).
Oak Park Elementary School District 97