Gurnee School District 56
Thoughts from Dr. Pacatte
The start of the 2020-2021 school year began like no other, and while it was a relatively smooth start it wasn’t what it should have been. It should have been kids getting off of school buses, excited to meet their teachers, and see their friends. It should have been the unpacking of school supplies with locker mirrors, untouched crayons, organized desks, and gym suits. It should have been middle school students navigating locker combinations, passing periods, schedules, and decisions about which clubs or extracurriculars to join.
As a public school system, we are required to follow the guidelines as set by the Illinois State Board of Education and in the time of the pandemic, the Illinois Department of Public Health. As the superintendent, I am charged with making sure that we do so in all areas including curriculum, assessment, and health & safety. This summer was filled with ongoing updates to guidelines and revisions of the updates. The teachers and administrators did their very best to keep up with these changes, however, it often felt as though as soon as we had solutions to the guidelines a change would occur.
An example of a challenge would be the requirement of the use of N95 masks for school nurses and custodians when working with a suspected case of Covid-19 or cleaning an area of the school where a person who tested positive for Covid-19 had been. Unfortunately, school employees are not currently considered essential workers, and N95 masks are very difficult to get if you aren’t essential. As a result, we found ourselves in the position of asking neighboring districts who may have some if we could use theirs and pay them back when ours came in. In my career, I have worked in districts that were challenged financially, but I never saw us having to borrow from another district to meet state guidelines.
Through all of these challenges, we haven’t given up. We opened the In School Remote program so our families who have to go to work have a safe place for their students to go. Is it ideal? Absolutely not. It is a long day for most children and the youngest learners struggle mightily to stay focused, work online, and wear a mask. As we watched this program, we realized that we need to do more. The school year may have started remotely, but we cannot accept that as a final position for the 2020-2021 school year. Our team will continue to go back to the “drawing board” to find ways to improve the educational experience for as many of our students as we can. The guidelines from ISBE/IDPH are non-negotiable, but I am hopeful that we will find opportunities to positively impact the experiences of our students.
Tweet of the Week
BOOKS ARE COMING!
If kids can’t come to our libraries we are going to bring our libraries to our kids! Gurnee School District 56 will be running its own Bookmobiles to our students during Remote Learning! Our staff, including librarians, maintenance workers, bus drivers, and administrators have been working to convert four of our buses into bookmobiles. Schedules will be coming out soon with information as to where and when the bookmobiles will be near you. Students will be able to order books in advance for pick up through their iPad. They will also be able to take turns getting on the bus to pick out a book from the selections available.
GURNEE SCHOOL DISTRICT 56 BAND
DISTANCE DUETS WITH DISTRICT 56 MUSIC DIRECTORS
The Lake County Health Department is encouraging everyone to get a flu shot this fall. While this will not prevent the Corona Virus, it does provide some protection against the predicted flu strains. Flu shots are available throughout the community including Jewel Osco, Walmart, and Walgreens. It is recommended for young children and adults. Even though it may only be effective 50% of the time, it can minimize the number of illnesses with “Covid-19 like symptoms” and the subsequent quarantines that are associated with that. We hope to be back in school, in person, at some point in the future. Taking this step is a step towards a successful return.
Everyone can access out-of-home WiFi hotspots:
Xfinity WiFi Hotspots in out-of-home locations are available for free to anyone who needs them to support communities through this challenging time. Find your closest hotspot at wifi.xfinity.com/ or use the Xfinity WiFi Hotspots app.
Free Internet Essentials Package:
THE BOOKMOBILE IS COMING SOON!
Gurnee District 56 Bookmobile Schedule Starting 9/8 for River Trail Starting 9/10 for Prairie Trail, Spaulding, & Viking Middle School.