Since the start of the 2021-22 school year, District 97 has been providing remote instruction for quarantined students through the use of dedicated remote substitutes. However, this plan is simply not working for our students, who are losing much-needed access to their teachers and classroom instruction when they are required to quarantine at home. Additionally, our district, like so many others, is facing a shortage of substitute teachers, making it more difficult to implement the original plan for remote learning.
Although there are no perfect solutions to the challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is our responsibility to meet the needs of our students and provide as much continuity of learning as possible. For the past week, we have been engaged in discussions with leadership from the Oak Park Teachers’ Association (OPTA) to identify a solution that would provide greater access for students while they are quarantined or excluded from school. Together, we are moving forward with a letter of agreement to provide a “window into the classroom,” or passive learning, to students who are quarantined or excluded from school.
Based on the agreement, District 97 will utilize the following procedures for students participating in remote learning beginning Sept. 13:
- Once teachers are notified that a student in their class has been quarantined, they must set up a Zoom meeting each day for the duration of the quarantine. The Zoom link must be shared with parents via email or the designated learning management system.
- Teachers will be responsible for turning on only the audio during the Zoom session. If a teacher is using the white board or presenting, the camera will be turned on only for that portion of the lesson.
- Students who join the class remotely will not be able to raise their hand, participate in any class discussion, or use the chat feature.
- Teachers will provide all material needed for the class through the designated learning management system, or teachers may place a packet of materials that parents or siblings may pick up from the main office of the school. The decision is at the teacher’s discretion.
- Teachers may choose to be available to quarantined students during their personal planning period or after school and be paid at the contracted hourly rate of $35 per hour for that time. Teachers will submit a timesheet to their building principals after the quarantine period is over.
Qualifying for Remote Learning: As a reminder, remote learning will only be provided to any student who is under quarantine or excluded from school consistent with guidance or requirements from the local public health department or the Illinois Department of Public Health. This includes:
- Students who test positive for COVID-19;
- Students who are identified as close contacts;
- Students who are symptomatic and awaiting a COVID-19 test;
- Siblings of symptomatic students who are excluded from school, pending a negative COVID-19 test.
Students who are sick or absent for reasons unrelated to confirmed or probable COVID-19 cases will not be provided access to the Zoom link.
Further details will be communicated at the school level when students are placed in remote learning. Additionally, District 97 and OPTA leadership will meet after two weeks of implementation and as needed to discuss any modifications to this plan.
Thank you for your continued support and partnership.
Dr. Griff Powell and Dr. Patricia Wernet