District 97 Forming New Advisory Panel for School Reopening Plans

Dear District 97 Community,

I’m writing today to share some important updates regarding our back-to-school planning efforts.

Last week we announced that we would be delaying any transition to on-site, hybrid learning until after winter break, at the earliest. We also acknowledged the need for more time, transparency and community engagement as we work with our stakeholders to develop a safe and equitable plan for the remainder of the 2020-21 school year.

As part of these efforts, I am pleased to announce today that I am convening a new advisory panel to provide input on the district’s draft plans to safely transition students and staff back to in-person instruction. The panel will meet weekly and will include parents, community leaders, medical experts, staff, teachers and students representing all 10 of our schools. We have also sought parents and staff who represent a wide variety of grade levels, student needs, demographic backgrounds and individual circumstances.

Further details about the panel’s makeup, charge and timeline are included below.

Charge of the Superintendent’s Advisory Panel

The Superintendent’s Advisory Panel meetings will have the following goals:

  • Reflect on the current hybrid learning plan and identify areas for further clarification and improvement.
  • Ensure that additional parent, staff and community input is reflected in the hybrid learning plan.
  • Make recommendations to the superintendent and leadership team to refine the draft hybrid learning plan. 
  • Present updated hybrid learning plan to the District 97 Board of Education in the December meeting for approval.

Composition of the Superintendent’s Advisory Panel

The Superintendent’s Advisory Panel will be composed of the following individuals, who were invited to participate based on recommendations from the community, building principals and staff. We will publish participants’ names to our website by next week.

  • All principals (10)
  • All school nurses (10)
  • D97 Equity Design Team (+3) 
  • OPTA building representative for each school (10)
  • OPTAA co-presidents (2)
  • OPESP co-presidents or designees (2-3)
  • SEIU president or designee (1)
  • Cabinet + extended team members (13) 
  • Students (6)
  • Board of Education liaisons (2)
  • Child care partners (4)
  • PTO Council co-presidents or designees (2)
  • DivCo co-presidents or designee (2)
  • Medical professionals/parents (4-6)
  • Community leaders (3), including one representative from the Oak Park Department of Public Health


Date Action
10/29 (6 p.m. - 8 p.m.) 1st meeting of Superintendent’s Advisory Panel: Discuss goals/plan for working together
11/5 (6 p.m. -
8 p.m.)
2nd meeting of Superintendent’s Advisory Panel: Present findings from community conversations
11/10 (7 p.m.) BOE Meeting (Special Report - Share Update of SAP’s progress)
(8 a.m. - 10 a.m.)
3rd meeting of Superintendent’s Advisory Panel: Provide guidance for plan that will be presented to BOE
(6 p.m. -
8 p.m.)
4th meeting of Superintendent’s Advisory Panel: Provide guidance for plan that will be presented to BOE
12/1 (7 p.m.) Superintendent’s Advisory Panel (with full BOE) discusses revised plan with BOE
12/15 (7 p.m.) Superintendent’s Advisory Panel (with full BOE) anticipates BOE endorsement of plan 


Details and updates about the advisory panel will be shared weekly and posted to the district website at: https://www.op97.org/updatecenter/2020-21-planning. We are also developing community engagement strategies to ensure that all of our stakeholders’ voices are considered in this process.


Finally, I want to acknowledge the recent developments regarding the rise of COVID-19 cases in Illinois. Our team is monitoring these metrics and the trend of community spread on a daily basis—not only in Oak Park, but across Cook County. This data is available on the Illinois Department of Public Health website and the Northwestern University COVID-19 dashboard

Testing bulletins are posted every Monday, Wednesday and Friday by the Village of Oak Park Department of Public Health. These bulletins show a sharp increase in both the seven-day and 14-day rolling averages locally and statewide. Again, we are monitoring this data closely and staying in close communication with our public health officials, as outlined in our Guiding Metrics document.

I want to encourage everyone in our District 97 community to do their part to slow the spread of this virus. Please continue to follow IDPH guidelines: wear face coverings, practice social distancing, limit mass gatherings and use proper hand hygiene.

Thank you very much for your time and attention to this message. I look forward to sharing additional updates, next steps and opportunities for engagement next week.


Dr. Carol Kelley