March 29, 2020
Dear District 15 Parents and Guardians,
I hope my latest communication finds you and your family well, and managing as best as can be expected during these uncertain times of COVID-19 Stay-at-Home orders. As we return from Spring Break on Tuesday, March 31, I want to update you on our ongoing plans for distance learning, specifically in response to the latest recommendations from the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) in effect through the current school closure order.
District 15, in an effort to provide continuity of instruction for students, will continue to provide engaging lessons through the extent of the school closure. Distance Learning resources for students to work on during the teacher plan day, Monday, March 30, are available to parents on our website. Teachers will be engaging with students and providing more structured content starting Tuesday, March 31 through at least Tuesday, April 7.
At this time, Governor Pritzker has mandated schools across the state remain closed through at least Tuesday, April 7 with school resuming on Wednesday, April 8, 2020. It is my belief that this timeline will be extended, and if so, I want you to know that we will be ready with distance learning lessons for students and will continue to prepare and deliver food to our students.
Our talented teachers and administrators have been hard at work over their Spring Break preparing distance learning opportunities to support our 12,000 learners. They will use tomorrow, Monday, March 30 to continue planning.
ISBE announced on Friday, March 27 that remote learning will occur for all schools statewide through the suspension of in-person instruction and provided more guidance and recommendations for all Illinois school districts via a nearly 70-page document. Our administrative team has been hard at work incorporating these new guidelines into our existing distance learning plan. We have been in communication with our employee bargaining groups and will reach consensus on how best to meet the recommendations from the ISBE moving forward.
ISBE’s expanded recommendations include several important points:
Instructional remote learning differs from more formal, statutory eLearning plans;
During remote learning days, schools must allow for student engagement and continuity of instruction under conditions that do not allow students and staff to be in the same physical space;
Remote learning may or may not involve technology;
Time allotted to tasks should be age-appropriate;
Instructional remote learning does not eliminate the teacher, but instead works to develop a partnership with families to provide instructional remote learning in these difficult times;
IEPs will remain in place, and staff will work to use technology or other means to ensure special education services are delivered;
ISBE will not require school districts to extend school calendars during the mandated closure period, which means our tentative last day of school will be Wednesday, May 27; and
Each school or district may utilize five Remote Learning planning days, consecutively or in separate increments, to develop, review, or amend its Remote Learning Day Plan. Remote Learning Planning Days will be considered pupil attendance days.
We understand this is new to everyone -- including the entire District 15 staff. ISBE’s guidance strongly aligns with the notion that our goal is to support educators in minimizing, to the extent possible, any negative impact these unprecedented circumstances have on our students, staff, and communities.
As I shared previously, we worked to disconnect Chromebook carts at all of our elementary buildings in order to provide 1:1 devices for our K-5th grade students who did not have access to technology at home. That said, we are still hearing from families that did not originally respond to the need for a Chromebook. If you missed previous communications on this topic, and still need a device or Internet at home, please connect with your building principal as soon as possible this week.
Again, I thank you for your support and flexibility during this unprecedented time. I ask for your continued patience and grace for our staff as they implement a new way of teaching while also juggling stresses in their personal lives that all of us face in this new COVID-19 environment.
I will provide new updates regarding distance learning and the status of schools reopening as soon as they become available.
Your partner in education,
Superintendent of Schools