Update on School Reopening Plans - Oct. 14, 2020

Dear members of the District 97 community,

Thank you for your engagement and feedback in our back-to-school planning efforts.

We’re writing to provide some important updates about the timeline and planning process for considering a hybrid learning model. The most recent plan (Framework for Reopening Schools) released on October 9, indicated a return to school in Trimester 2. The Framework was the product of significant hard work and aimed to identify the best path forward under unprecedented and challenging times, and the Board is thankful to the administration for their hard work on the initial plan.

Based upon feedback the Board has received since the plan's release, as well as the discussion at the October 13 board meeting, the Board has requested that the district extend the reopening timeline in order to strengthen the plan and engage more community stakeholders in its development. As a result, District 97 will delay any transition to on-site, hybrid learning until after winter break (January 2021), at the earliest. Parents/guardians will no longer need to indicate their survey preference for hybrid or remote learning by October 20.

The district will proceed with previously communicated plans to provide in-person learning opportunities for specialized populations, some of whom are already on site. The District 97 Student Services Department will continue to communicate directly with these families.

Additionally, in light of this decision, the district has decided to postpone the town hall scheduled for October 19 until further notice. However, the administration plans to work with the town hall facilitator to carefully review the questions we received in order to identify major themes and considerations that will inform our plans moving forward. These findings will be summarized in a report that will be made available to the public.

Since the plan’s release, we have received many thoughtful concerns and questions from parents, teachers and other stakeholders—feedback that has been helpful and constructive. This input has made clear that we need more time to address the complexities of when and how we move to a hybrid learning model, and underscored the importance of engaging as many stakeholders as possible in this process. 

The Administration will reach back out to the community in the near future with a new process and timeline that reflects the urgency of the issues we’re facing while ensuring that key questions and concerns are addressed and that various options are thoroughly evaluated. The process will also ensure transparency and provide parents, district personnel and other stakeholders with the opportunity to inform and react to proposed plans before they are finalized and before people are asked to commit to a particular option.

The Board and Administration greatly appreciate your feedback and willingness to help us develop a robust, safe and equitable plan for our students, teachers, and staff. We are also thankful for your offers to assist as well as your expressions of support. We look forward to continued conversation about next steps and opportunities for engagement.

Sincerely,

District 97 Board of Education

District 97 Administration