Middle Matters Remote Learning

Week of August 17th, 2020

Welcome to the 2020 -2021 School year!

If you have questions about the upcoming school year, please don’t hesitate to contact me at acapuder@op97.org. You can also contact my Executive Coordinator, Ms. Tasha Guerino, at tguerino@op97.org or (708) 524-7636.

Our administrative team is also available to help answer your questions.

Angelica Love Curriculum & Instruction AP (6th grade, Teams 7.1 & 7.2) alove@op97.org

Antione Bland Curriculum & Instruction AP (8th grade, Teams 7.3) abland@op97.org

Stacie Klein Culture & Climate AP sklein@op97.org

Highlights from this week's Middle Matters:

  • Tuesday, 9/1/20 First Day of Remote Learning
  • 6th Grade Welcome, Chromebook Distribution, Brooks Spirit Wear and D97 Library Book Return based on your student's last name on 8/19 and 8/20
  • New 7th and 8th Grade Student Chromebook and Brooks Spirit Wear Pick Up
  • All Grade Level Student Remote Learning Materials Pick Up
  • Parent University Recorded Zoom Sessions and Slides shared on 8/13
  • D97 News Highlights: D97 Social Emotional Needs Survey request, Child Care Information, Registration, Meal Distribution Information, and Pandemic EBT Benefit Information

Sharing again:

  • Remote Learning Schedule Information; student schedules to be emailed on Tuesday, 8/18
  • School Supply List
  • School Immunization and Physical Information
  • New Staff Introductions
  • PTO Volunteering Information
  • Technology Support

Important Calendar Updates

The first day of school for students will be Tuesday, Sept. 1.

First Day of School/Calendar Update

During its regular meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 11, the District 97 Board of Education approved a modified calendar for the 2020-21 school year. The first day of school for students will be Tuesday, Sept. 1.

Oak Park and River Forest High School 200 also recently adopted a modified calendar, which shifted the start of their winter break to Dec. 24, 2020. Students will return for Semester 2 until Jan. 11, 2021.

In order to accommodate families with students in both districts, the District 97 Calendar Committee will be reviewing our modified calendar to determine options for aligning our winter break with District 200. Currently, winter break in District 97 is scheduled to begin on Dec. 21, 2020, with students returning on Jan. 4, 2021.

Regardless of the dates for winter break, we plan to hold our first day of school for students on Sept. 1.

A recommendation will be provided to the District 97 Board of Education during a special meeting next week. We will provide an update to staff and families as soon as possible

6th Grade Welcome and Chromebook Distribution

Process for Chromebook Pick-up and iPad Return

  • Please write the student last name on a sheet of paper AND T-shirt size and tape it to the passenger side window. The Brooks PTO will be giving a Brooks T-shirt to all of our 6th graders too. Sizes included are Youth Small to Adult Large. Thank you Brooks PTO!

i.e Student Last Name - Capuder

T-shirt Size: adult small

  • We ask that you only drive SOUTH on Kenilworth avenue for the 300 block of Kenilworth to help with traffic flow in and out of the Brooks parking lot.

  • Parents/guardians will turn right into the main parking lot off of Kenilworth avenue during your student’s scheduled time.

  • Please wear a mask and be prepared to turn in your child's iPad, case and charger and then a Chromebook, charger and information sheet will be issued (assuming registration has been completed)

  • Return any library books from your child's elementary school that you may still have

  • Brooks PTO will also provide a Brooks T-shirt for your student.

  • Please exit by turning right or heading south on Kenilworth from the Brooks parking lot. This will help with traffic flow in and out of the parking lot.

Please plan to follow the schedule outlined below to help ensure the distribution runs efficiently and safely:

8/19 5pm to 6pm: 6th Grade and New Students with Last Names starting with letters A-C

8/19 6pm to 7pm: 6th Grade and New Students with Last Names starting with letters D-J

8/20 5pm to 6pm: 6th Grade and New Students with Last Names starting with letters K-P

8/20 6pm to 7pm: 6th Grade and New Students with Last Names starting with letters Q-Z

****NEW 7th and 8th Grade students see below for information about pick up.****

Please note you registration must be finalized with all required documents submitted to be issued a Chromebook.

Brooks T-shirts to 6th graders during Chromebook Distribution

During our Chromebook distribution days on 8/19 and 8/20 the Brooks PTO will be distributing T-Shirts to our 6th Grade. We ask that prior to your arrival to Brooks, the you please have a piece of paper taped to your passenger window with the shirt size your student will need. This will give us time to pull the shirt size for you when you pull up for the Chromebook exchange. Sizes included are Youth Small to Adult Large.

Thank you to the Brooks PTO for suppling our students with the Brooks Spirit Wear. We look forward to seeing all of our students wearing their shirts during our virtual spirit wear days!

Library Book Return Opportunity

Students who may still be holding library books from their previous grade school may take the opportunity to return their books during the Chromebook distribution nights.

Current 7th and 8th grade students may return library books during the School Materials Distribution nights as well.

7th and 8th Grade New Brooks Families Welcome and Chromebook Distribution

Welcome to all of our new 7th and 8th grade families! Please plan to pick up your student's Chromebook and Brooks Spirit Wear T-shirt, provided by our PTO (sizes youth small-adult large) between 9am and 12pm on Wednesday, August 26th. Please park in the main parking lot off of Kenilworth and enter the commons (located to the left of the main entrance) wearing a mask. You will be greeted by a few of our office staff who will be there to help you.

ALL GRADES: Student Remote Learning Material Pick Up Information

We are are working to prepare a robust Remote Learning experience for your student during trimester 1. In our effort to do this, we have organized student learning materials that will need to be picked up from Brooks. Please plan to come to Brooks on Saturday, 8/29 according to the specified times below to pick up your student's learning materials to support Remote Learning.

**If you have multiple students in the building, please plan to come during the OLDEST student's designated time.

6th Grade Students

9:00am to 10:00am with last names A-J

10:00am to 11:00am with last names K-Z

7th Grade Students

11:00am to 12:00pm with last names A-K

12:00pm to 1:00pm with last names L-Z

8th Grade Students

1:00pm to 2:00pm with last names A-K

2:00pm to 3:00pm with last names L-Z

Please follow this process:

  • Please write the student last name on a sheet of paper

i.e Student Last Name - Capuder

  • We ask that you only drive SOUTH on Kenilworth avenue for the 300 block of Kenilworth to help with traffic flow in and out of the Brooks parking lot.

  • Parents/guardians will turn right into the main parking lot off of Kenilworth avenue during your student’s scheduled time.

  • Please wear a mask.

  • We will deliver a bag to your car with the various class materials for your student to use during remote learning.

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Remote Learning 2.0: Middle School

Video Slides

Canvas (Learning management system for Grades 6-8)

Video Slides

Google Tools (Operating Drive, Documents and sharing)

Video Slides

Securly (Student safety and device management tool)

Video Slides

Zoom 101 (Zoom basics for families)

Video Slides

District Parent University page has been created and includes links to all the recordings and slide decks from the Parent University on 8/13/20: https://www.op97.org/remotelearning/parent-university

Additionally, there is a YouTube playlist, which is linked from that page: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLEoq9YQjF_tcNlxUw0RkCCWgn-rK-GQV-


Your child’s schedule will be e-mailed home on Tuesday, August 18th, 2020. All requested elective courses were considered and assigned whenever available.

If your student’s registration hasn’t been fully completed, including the uploading of all required documents, we will not be able to send your student’s schedule at this time.


  • Will begin remote learning at 9am and end at 3:30pm

  • Students will attend 4 of their 8 classes each day on alternating A/B days, so one week they will meet with 4 of their classes 3 times and then the next week 2 times and vice versa for the other 4 classes, so over the course of two full weeks of school each of the 8 classes will meet a total of 5 times.

  • Students will be expected to meet for synchronous learning with each of their classes on their scheduled day via Zoom according to their student class schedule. Student attendance will be taken each period of expected attendance by their teacher in PowerSchool, as if we were meeting for in-person learning.

  • Each of their classes’ Zoom links will be posted on each of their Canvas Course’s Navigation menu

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School Physicals and Immunizations

Although District 97 is starting the 2020-21 school year with remote learning, the State of Illinois is still requiring all students entering kindergarten, 6th grade, and any students new to District 97 to turn in a current school physical (Certificate of Child Health Examination and Immunization record) with up-to-date immunizations (requirements for the State of Illinois can be found here). If you have not already provided this information when you registered your child, please email your child's records directly to our school nurse, Nancy Radogno at nradogno@op97.org.

Warm Welcome to our New Brooks Staff

Volunteer with the Brook’s PTO next year

The PTO is committed to enriching the experience of students at Gwendolyn Brooks Middle School through supporting a positive school environment, facilitating the development of positive relationships within the community, advancing school equity initiatives, and creating an environment where all students have access to school resources and opportunities. Email any questions to gwendolynbrookspto@gmail.com.

Technology Support

Technical support will be available from school and district technology staff by accessing the Help Desk through email, helpdesk@op97.org. When an email is submitted, a Help Desk ticket is created and assigned to technology staff, who will be working throughout the day to address technology concerns. Our technology team can support District 97 devices and student online programs.

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2020 - 2021 Planning - District News and Information

D97 Survey: Social-Emotional and Mental Health Needs
District 97 is continuing to plan for the 2020-21 school year and is prioritizing the social-emotional and mental health needs of students, staff, and families to ensure the availability and quality of appropriate resources and supports. We have partnered with Hanover Research to design and analyze a survey to understand your needs and priorities related to social-emotional and mental health for this school year, and we would like to hear from you.

You can access the survey here or by copying and pasting the following URL into your browser: https://hanover-research.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_39RQ56KYF6mBgwZ. The survey will close on Monday, Aug. 24.

Please note that your responses to this survey will be completely anonymous and will only be shared with District 97 in aggregate form, so please be candid in your responses. We appreciate you taking the time to complete this survey!

Information from Community Child Care Providers for 2020-21 School Year

District 97 is working with community partners to support the child care needs of our families and staff. We are currently partnering with three providers: Hephzibah, the Park District of Oak Park and By Discovery. Details about each program can be found here.

The district will be providing financial assistance for any student who receives free or reduced lunch for at least Trimester 1. We will discuss the possibility of additional fee coverage with the Board of Education once plans are determined for the remainder of the school year. Details are provided at the point of online registration for each child care provider.


Families who are enrolling students in District 97 for the 2020-21 school year—including parents of new students and kindergartners—are encouraged to complete registration as soon as possible. Returning families should ensure that all required residency documents are uploaded. For more information about the registration process, please visit https://www.op97.org/hr/student-registration or email d97registrar@op97.org.

Summer Meal Distributions to Continue through Aug. 24

District 97 has been working with our food service provider, Oak Park and River Forest High School District 200, to ensure that all District 97 students have access to meals this summer. D97 will continue to hold weekly meal distributions through Monday, August 24.

Pandemic EBT Benefit Deadline Extended to August 31

The Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) launched the Pandemic EBT to provide nutritional resources to families who have lost access to free or reduced-price school meals due to school closures. Families will receive money on a new or existing EBT card to help fill the school meals gap. If your child receives free or reduced-price school meals through the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), or your child attends a school that offers free school meals to all students, then you are eligible to receive P-EBT benefits. Families who have lost their job or wages may now be eligible.

The deadline to apply for this benefit has been extended to Aug. 31, 2020. For more information about eligibility and how to apply, please visit https://bit.ly/2DJDEAd.

Free/Reduced Lunch Application

We know that a common experience for many families during this health crisis is the loss of jobs and income. This change in income may qualify your children for free or reduced-price meals. We encourage all families who currently qualify to take a few minutes to complete the National School Lunch application as soon as possible. If you have any questions, please email the district's food service coordinator, Carla Ellis, at cellis@op97.org.

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The Help Corner will features a frequently-asked question related to services and opportunities available for District 97 students and families. We will keep a complete list of these FAQs on our district website.

District 97 has created Community Resources Page. We also encourage families to stay connected through Facebook and Twitter. Additional updates can be found at:

Village of Oak Park

Oak Park Township

Oak Park Public Library

Park District of Oak Park

Oak Park and River Forest High School District 200

District 97 also has a broad network of partner organizations that provide an array of supports and services for Oak Park residents. The Community Mental Health Board and Oak Park and River Forest Townships have also put together a COVID-19 Social Services Resource Guide, which is available at https://tinyurl.com/oprfguide.

Community Resources

Distribution of information by a community group in accordance with District 97 policy does not imply, directly or indirectly, that the group's program(s), event(s) and/or services(s) is sanctioned, sponsored or endorsed by the district, the Board of Education or the superintendent.


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Thrive is offering phone-based counseling, 24/7 crisis intervention services, medication management and, a free Thrive Check-In phone support line (Ext. 8) to address our community’s needs during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Call us at (708)383-7500. Our Front Desk team is also ready to assist you Monday-Friday, 9am to 2pm, with requests for referrals or new services and to reschedule or cancel an appointment.

Mental Health Resource, "Call4Calm"

Thrive is also a proud partner of the Illinois Call4Calm Text Line Service. Text “TALK” TO 552020 (or “HABLAR) for Spanish. The Illinois Call4Calm Text Line is not a crisis hotline, but is a source of support for anyone experiencing stress and in need of a listening ear.

And we know the COVID-19 pandemic can wear on every resource—from food and shelter to our emotional bandwidth and mental health. Fortunately, the Illinois Department of Human Services has launched a support line called Call4Calm that is reachable via text. Individuals who want to speak with a mental health professional can text the word “TALK” or “HABLAR” (for Spanish speakers) to 552-020. Within 24 hours, that individual will receive a call from a mental health professional employed by a local community health center.

People can also text other terms, like “unemployment” or “food” or “shelter” to the same number to receive information on how to navigate and access supports and services. Call4Calm is free, and individuals who use it can remain anonymous. We encourage you to share this resource with your students, families, and staff.

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