Superintendent's Corner

Avoca District 37 - February 21, 2022

In this brief issue...

  • Ongoing Mitigation in Our Schools
  • Going Forward
  • Coming Soon: Portrait of a Graduate Survey

Our First Week of Mask Optional Learning - Together

Our principals will be sending additional communications later today regarding how we will approach our first day of optional masking in our schools. Foremost, we should be modeling respectful and supportive language for our students and each other. Anything less than that will sow resentment and division, which is beneath us as a community. Please read carefully what the principals send out. We encourage you to adopt similar language in talking with your students.

Ongoing Mitigation in Our Schools

Regarding mitigation in the mask optional environment, below outlines what mitigation will be in place starting tomorrow:

  • Universal masking is still required on all buses, per federal requirements that regulate school transportation. Students will not be allowed to ride the bus unless they do so wearing a mask.

  • COVID positive students will be required to stay home for five days or longer if symptoms persist. This is consistent (but not identical) with what we would require of any student who is seriously ill, e.g. strep, mumps, flu, etc.

  • Symptomatic students

    • should stay home until symptoms are resolved

    • are recommended to get a COVID test

      • The nurse will communicate regularly with parents of symptomatic students

  • If a student is in a classroom with a COVID positive individual, parents will be asked if they want their student to participate in a "rapid antigen testing" option. On days 1, 3, 5, and 7 after a potential exposure, they could take rapid antigen tests prior to the start of each of those days to ensure they are not COVID positive. (This is recommended for unvaccinated students.)

  • 3ft social distancing or more in classrooms will be the goal when appropriate, at the discretion of the teacher and in collaboration with administration.

  • Adjusted seating for lunch will still be in place in both schools for the time being.

  • Continued emphasis on good hygiene throughout the day.

  • Limited and/or distanced seating at extra-curricular events, e.g. concerts, athletic contests.

  • Weekly reporting on our COVID dashboard will continue (click here)

Going Forward

In the coming weeks, I will review our provisions for responding to COVID and draft metrics presented to the Board of Education on February 17 (see by clicking here) to determine a stable, clear, and appropriate course forward in regards to policies and practices beyond Policy 4.171 which will help us safely maintain quality in-person instruction in our schools with continuity.

This is appropriate because early Friday morning (February 18th) the Illinois Appellate Court issued a ruling on the original Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) that called into question the Governor’s mask mandate. That Appellate Court ruling did affirm school districts’ legal authority to act independently from executive orders and IDPH in creating provisions addressing COVID-19. (You may see the whole Appellate Court Ruling by clicking here.) Additionally, Illinois School Code affirms in any number of places the ability of schools to regulate behavior and what is necessary for maintaining a safe school environment. (See ILCS 5/10-20, 5/20.5, 5/24-24. See also the 1987 Illinois Supreme Court Ruling, Spinelli v. Immanuel Lutheran Evangelical Congregation, Inc., 118 Ill.2d 389, 403.)

Coming Soon - Portrait of a Graduate Survey

In the coming week, I will send out a survey seeking feedback on the DRAFT Portrait of a Graduate, which will be a cornerstone of our Strategic Plan and our vision for the future of the District.

A Portrait is simply a vision for what we want our students to be and be able to do when they have completed their full course of study with us in Avoca.

Here is only a draft. Your feedback on the coming survey will give the Strategic Planning Committee and Board of Education important feedback regarding how to revise the Portrait before adoption.