District 97 Back-to-School Update - July 9

Dear District 97 Community,

During a special board meeting Thursday morning, our district’s administrative team and I had the opportunity to share a draft of our reopening plans for the 2020-21 school year. We provided information about the three scenarios we have been considering (full onsite, hybrid and remote), gave an overview of the results from our parent and family surveys, and shared details about the conditions and challenges that have emerged through our planning work over the past two months. A recording of the meeting and supporting documents are linked below:

After carefully analyzing and discussing a number of considerations—including health and safety, financial costs, staffing needs and physical spaces—the current plan is for District 97 to start the 2020-21 school year in hybrid/blended learning model, with students assigned to two groups to reduce the density in our buildings. Group A would attend school on Monday and Tuesday, Group B would be onsite Thursday and Friday, and Wednesday would be remote learning for all students to allow for a thorough cleaning of all buildings. Students with IEPs or 504 plans and our EL students will have the opportunity to report each day of onsite instruction.

This plan is guided by three priorities: the health and safety of our students and staff; providing consistent, high-quality learning experiences; and our commitment to equity. It was informed by the guidelines issued by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) and the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH); the current recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC); remote learning and “back-to-school” feedback from students, families, and staff; input from union leadership and staff members who participated on our planning teams; school planning work by Districts 90 and 200; consultation with community partners; and many other factors.

Our plans for Fall 2020 are imperfect solutions to providing students with rich and meaningful educational experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic. As we go forward, we know that we must be ready to shift our instruction seamlessly between virtual and in-person instruction based on the current status of COVID-19 and the Restore Illinois plan. 

Today’s meeting provided only a high-level overview of our plans for the fall. Over the coming weeks, administrators and staff will be working through the logistics to operationalize this model, which includes safety protocols, scheduling and professional learning. Additionally, we plan to work with local partners to develop innovative solutions for child care to support the needs of our families and staff. We will provide more details and timely updates in the weeks ahead.
Finally, I want to recognize our staff for their hard work during the summer months to prepare for our reopening. I am also grateful for the patience of our families in the face of these unimaginable challenges. My hope is that we can all continue to extend grace, kindness and flexibility to one another as we work together to implement this plan. 

Dr. Carol Kelley