Superintendent's Corner

Avoca School District 37 - October 4, 2021

In this issue ...

  • Shape the future - Advance Avoca
  • COVID Update 1: Masking and Masking Practices
  • COVID Update 2: Vaccinations Keep Us All Safe
  • Proposed Nature Park to replace Hunter House at Avoca West
  • Principal Appreciation Month
  • National Hispanic Heritage Month

Shape the Future: Advance Avoca

In the latest issue of The Vision, which will be mailed to every household in the district this week, upcoming Community Engagement sessions are highlighted. Please consider attending these sessions on October 20 and November 17 at Marie Murphy. (See details below.)

These Town Hall meetings set the stage for collecting detailed feedback from you regarding the current status and future direction of the district.

After a presentation, attendees will take a brief online survey (bring your phones or tablets) then meet in small focus groups with our consultants, an administrator, or a member of the Board of Education.

Together, your feedback will inform a Strategic Planning Committee of more than 20 parents/guardians, staff members, and community members. After our consultant uses the feedback to issue a Needs Assessment, the Committee will draft a future direction for the District, including a portrait of our future learners.

This opportunity rarely comes along, and I have fashioned a process to gather specific and focused feedback from you, our staff, and our community so we have a clear vision of our future together. See below the details for the Town Hall Meetings:

October 20, 7-9 p.m. Marie Murphy Gym

Topic: Student and Staff: Learning, Achievement, and Well Being

November 17, 7-9 p.m. Marie Murphy Gym

Topic: Facilities, Learning Spaces, and District Finances

Extensive social distancing guidelines will be followed and masking is required.

If you cannot attend a session, the presentation will be recorded and the survey can be completed by anyone who views the presentation recording.

COVID Update 1: Masks & Masking Practices

Our local covid numbers continue to look promising. There have been some cases in the schools, but most have been within households and none have been traced to any transmission in the classrooms.

This lack of transmission is due to three main factors: High local vaccination rates among those eligible, social distancing to the greatest extent possible, and universal masking.

Some have asked us to review our current practice of having elementary students mask during recess at lunch time or otherwise during PE when the teacher directs. This is not a requirement of the CDC or IDPH. However, when we look at the frequency of contact and the physical distancing during some outdoor activities, for the time being we are taking the cautious approach. We will review this weekly with our medical advisor and among our administrative team. At Marie Murphy, where most of the student population is vaccinated, this is less of a concern.

Additionally, while I share the weariness we all feel at the requirement to mask, it is important that we continue to follow this requirement - recent studies by the CDC reinforce the idea that masking works. (Click here for CDC 9.24.21 release.) Wearing a high quality, two-ply mask so it fits over one's nose and snuggly against the cheeks is important. Please support your child wearing their mask properly as they leave for school.

Finally, if your child needs a mask break when outside, please let your child's teacher know. Most teachers, at one time or another when outside, are providing opportunities for students to go unmasked. This is possible at recess too if they simply ask and are not in close contact with other students.

COVID Update 2: Vaccinations Keep Us All Safe

Currently, anyone 12 and up is eligible for the Pfizer vaccine. If you or your child have not yet gotten vaccinated, please do so at the earliest opportunity, as vaccinations are the most effective tool we have to keeping schools safe.

Additionally, Pfizer boosters are now available for qualified at-risk individuals and employees, including school personnel. I have encouraged our staff members to get a booster, if possible, at the earliest possible opportunity.

Also important this year will be a flu vaccine, as experts predict flu season will be more challenging this year than it was in prior years.

Finally, please make sure that your child's required annual vaccinations are completed by mid-October, as these are required for a student to be able to attend school. These vaccinations include: Diptheria, Pertussis, Tetanus, Polio, Measles, Rubella, and Mumps, among others. For a full list, please contact your school nurse or your child's pediatrician.

Proposed Nature Park to Replace Hunter House at Avoca West

Many people do not realize that the house which sits on the southwest corner of the Avoca West property is actually owned by the District, left to it by the owner more than 50 years ago.

However, being a landlord and maintaining a residence is both costly and beyond the school district's mission. In May, 2021, the Board of Education tasked me with seeking to dispose of the house or that part of the property in a safe and fiscally responsible manner.

This led to me seeking out the Glenview Park District as a partner, as the Park District and School District have worked in partnership for over 60 years at Avoca West.

After many meaningful discussions, the Park District is offering to buy a 1.1 parcel in the southwest corner of the Avoca West property to transform it into a neighborhood (no additional parking or traffic) nature park, which would be designed with student, staff, and citizen input.

To learn more about this great opportunity, please click on this link to see my memo to the Board of Education.

Principal Appreciation Month

The passion our students and teachers bring to school every day is the engine that drives our greatness. And without the great leadership of our principals, that energy would not come together to make the community and family culture that defines Avoca West and Marie Murphy.

October is National Principal Month. In addition to simply recognizing their contributions here, I look forward to highlighting throughout the month how Jessica Hutchison and Elena Ryan work so hard to make our schools more welcoming, inclusive, and productive for our students and staff every day.

Please take just a small part of one of your days this month, and see if you can reach out to Jessica or Elena in some way to show them how they make things better for you or your student.

National Hispanic Heritage Month

National Hispanic Heritage Month runs for another two weeks, but understanding and knowing some little learned aspects of Hispanic identity can take longer. Please take some time to delve primer from Learning for Justice about the "making" of Hispanic identity.

Sharing what you learn with your student in an age appropriate way reinforces for your student that such learning is important and not just a matter of "school learning." Our students take their cues from the important adults in their lives and this is how we can all make a difference.