The Whittier Word

Whittier Weekly Newsletter - Week of 3/7/2022

Dear Staff,

Thank you for a great week and coming together to prepare our school community for our upcoming changes on the 17th. We have become pros at adjusting and adapting to numerous updated guidelines. Our scholars will be watching us for direction and comfort during this phase. Let's continue working together and leaning on one another for support.

An outlook for the upcoming week:

-Monday - CPI Training Refresher Half Day (we will have a number of staff members out being trained)

-**Tuesday - CPI Training Full Day (we will have a number of staff members out being trained)

**If you are CPI Trained and there's a Tier 3, called over the intercom, we ask if you are available, please assist.

-Tuesday - K through 5th-grade TownHalls are taking place- schedule below.

* 5Essential Survey for Staff - Only 52 staff members have taken the survey - we want to hear your voice. Staff, let's get a 100% completion rate and show the other schools how Whittier is number 1!

Have a relaxing weekend - Saturday it's going to be 65º-we hope you get a moment to enjoy.

Chasity and Patrick

Whittier Week-At-A-Glance

*Virtual event

🗓 School Social Work Week March 6th - March 12 🗓

Monday, Mon.7th

  • Breakfast Program starts in the cafeteria 7:15am
  • CPI Training Refresher AM

Tuesday, Mar. 8th

  • CPI Training Full Day
  • Grade Level Town Hall Meeting
  • *BLT Meeting @ 3:15pm

Wednesday, Mar. 9th

Thursday, Mar. 10th

Friday, Mar. 11th

  • 5Essential Deadline for Staff, Students and Families
  • PBIS Tier 1 Mtg


15th - Institute Day - NO SCHOOL

15th - Board Meeting 7pm

17th - St. Patrick's Day

18th - Report Cards go home


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→ 🔊🔈 The Word on Updates! 🔊🔈←

*Weekly update from your Building Leadership Team*

Tuesday, 8th - Kindergarten through 5th Grade TownHall Meeting

Townhall Meeting Schedule:

8:30-8:50 - Fifth-Grade

9:00- 9:20 - Fourth-Grade

9:35- 9:55 - Third-Grade

10:00-10:20 - Kindergarten

10:35-10:55 - First-Grade

12:20-12:40 - Second-Grade

☞☞Important Whittier Updates - Recap

COVID Mitigation Updates

Student Line Up and Dismissal on Blacktop

Point to remember

Starting on March 17th, as a team, we will honor staff and scholars choice to wear or not wear a mask. We will have a culture of acceptance and respect.

5Essential Survey Staff Completion Rate thus far

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Sideeka and Susan we appreciate and thank you for everything you continuously do for our students and for us as a staff!

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PBIS Trimester 2 Bucket Filler!

It's been AWESOME to see classrooms stop by the bulletin board outside the office and walking down the hall to specials with their purple buckets! Keep it going!!

Our PBIS school-wide theme is RESPECT. We’re focusing specifically on how to be a bucket filler. In other words, how can we show kindness and respect to fill one another’s buckets? We’ll be bringing back our PAWS school-wide and specifically flooding / targeting respectful and kind bucket filling behaviors when we give to students. These special PAWS will all be purple and should be given specifically for bucket-filling behaviors! We’ll be celebrating our progress toward this goal on Friday, April 29th. Thank you Maggie Cahill for printing and cutting all the PAWs for us!!! If you missed the email from David Wawzenek this was also attached: Whittier Trimester 2 Bucket Filler. Reminder-the purple PAWs are only for Bucket filling behaviors. The blue and yellow are our regular everyday, I see you being respectful, responsible and/or safe behaviors.

Effective Tuesday, February 22, 2022, the below school-wide mitigations have been updated. Please read carefully.

  • No Cohorts During Outdoor Recess
    • Students can play and interact with other classrooms and grades during outdoor recess.
    • Classrooms will no longer be assigned to a particular location during recess times.
    • Playground supervisors' assignments will be updated. All supervisors will have an assigned location to monitor during these times.
  • Outdoor Masking
    • Masks will be optional for outdoor recess and activities, beginning Tuesday, February 22 (see timeline below). Masks will continue to be mandatory inside all of our buildings.
    • Students should maintain physical distance to the greatest extent possible given the space in the school facilities, with at least 3 feet recommended, but not required, between students, and at least 6 feet recommended, but not required, between adults or between students and adults. (IDPH guidance, page 13)
    • PTO has purchased mask lanyards for each scholar to help them keep up with their mask during the many transitions. Hopefully, we will be able to pass those out next week.
  • Conversations at Lunch

    • To reduce the risk of aerosol spread, students should continue to focus on eating while they are unmasked and limit talking.
    • Eating in A/B shifts is no longer required in classrooms.
    • Staff/lunch supervisors should continue to utilize videos and activities to limit conversation.
    • Talking is permitted while students are masked.
    • We will need to communicate with staff/lunch supervisors that silent lunch is not expected. We should continue to do our best to keep conversations limited to prevent spread while students are unmasked.
  • Rug Use in Classrooms

    • As long as a dated seating chart is continuously updated and available, rug use will be allowable in classrooms.
    • Mr. C and the team are returning the rugs to their classroom home. Lakresha will be sending out an excel sheet for those teachers who are not ready for their carpets to return.

The Lunch/Recess - Reminder

  • Transition times are on the schedule-PLEASE make sure you are transitioning kids at these times. Others are depending on you to transition at these times so that other students and staff can be at their destinations on time.

Information for Quarantined or Excluded Students

Please remember your zoom link is only for students who are either "quarantined or excluded" by the school(meaning communication has been made to you by Nurse Hilary.) Classroom teachers, we are asking you to add the special area link and choice board to the information that you send out to families, if and when needed. Please find the Special Area Teachers Zoom Link and Choice board here. It will be beneficial to save this link containing all zoom links and choice boards so that's it's easily accessible for use.

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Staff Spotlight - Assistant Principal Chasity McComb-Williams

  1. Hello! My Name is Chasity McComb-Williams

  2. I am.. the first Assistant Principal of Whittier and prior to being here, I was the Student Support Specialist and one of the Title 1 Tutors for reading and math. I have been at Whittier for 15 years.

  3. My favorite color is...PURPLE!

  4. What I like most about Whittier is...our students help take care of one another, including the adults. We are a caring community!

  5. If I had a SuperPower it would be to multiply myself so I will be able to be everywhere at the same time and have my to-do list cleared at the end of each day.

  6. If I was an animal I would be a GIRAFFE because it is the tallest living animal, making it unique!

  7. What advice would you give the scholars of Whittier? The advice I would give my scholars is to treat others the way they want to be treated even when no one is looking.

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Last Round of Learning Walks!

The next round of learning walks is scheduled to begin March 10th around the district. For the second round, we will use the SIP-aligned tool created by school teams and craft the schedule. Our date is below.
  • Whittier: April 21, 2022

IAR Information - Hitting Parent Inboxes Soon!

It's officially IAR season! The Communications Department will send general information about IAR to all families in grades 3 to 8 on Monday, March 7. Below is information that may be shared with families. Danielle C. and I will take time this week and next to firm up proctors for the various groups that will be needed. We will connect with grade-level leads to help streamline communication on the schedule.

Information to share with families is the following:

Each Spring, all District 97 students in Grades 3 to 8 take federally-required assessments to help us understand how they are growing academically. Since 2019, the state has utilized the Illinois Assessment of Readiness (IAR) to assess students’ knowledge and skills in English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics, as well as their progress toward the long-term goal of college and career readiness.

This year, the IAR will be administered to Whittier students between April 5 and 14. Specific grade level schedules will be coming soon.

Check out our “5 Things to Know About IAR” document to learn more about this year’s assessment!


Now that the weather is getting a tad warmer, per our ventilation two pager that you have seen previously, "All staff have the option to open classroom windows when weather conditions allow to further increase air changes per hour."

Please remember that during extreme temperatures the windows should stay closed. Also, please try to assist the custodians by closing any open windows before leaving for the day as a safety factor.

IAR Resources

Below are some additional resources:
  1. Test taking strategy mini-unit for 5th grade, aligned with RUOS
  2. IAR-aligned item bank
  3. Information how the standards feed into the sub-claims:
  4. IAR scoring rubrics/evidence tables (success criteria)
  5. To find additional released items along with sample student responses that have been scored, visit the New Meridian Resource Center.
  6. Additional resources can be found on the IAR Pearson Support site.

The Print Shop is OPEN!


The first day of Ramadan will be on Saturday, April 2, 2022, and ends the evening of Monday, May 2, 2022. It is important to connect with Muslim families in March and see if there are ways you may need to differentiate support for students during Ramadan. The links below provide important information regarding how to support students during Ramadan. Please review the links below to support students and families as needed.


5Essentials Survey Now Open

Deadline: March 11, 2022
The 5Essentials Survey is not open! Check out Tips for School Leaders to improve parent participation.

Please communicate with families regarding the 5E Student Survey BEFORE students take the 5E Survey. Current law requires that all parents be notified in writing about the administration of the 5Essentials Survey. The parent notification letter informs parents of the purpose of the 5Essentials Survey and its administration and allows them the opportunity to review the survey question and decline their child's participation in the survey. The parent notification letters for elementary and middle schools are linked below.

Parents may choose to have students opt out. You may select what is the best way of collecting this information and sharing it with teachers.

Teachers will have an opportunity to take the 5Essentials Survey on March 2 during the staff meeting.

Response rates for the parent, student, and teacher surveys will be updated every Friday and can be viewed on the 5Essentials Resource Page. Let's see what school exceeds meet rates this year!

James A. Gates Oak Park District 97 Teacher Scholarship

First and Second Year Staff Only- Megan Stewart has passed this information along to new hires but I wanted to be sure you had it as well!

The Oak Park-River Forest Community Foundation recently announced that the James A. Gates Oak Park District 97 Teacher Scholarship is opening its annual application for 2022.

This opportunity is for District 97 teachers in their first or second year of service in the district. The award is $1,400 this year, and can be used towards student loan repayment. A flyer announcement is attached here, and applications are to be submitted online by teachers at Applications will be accepted until April 1, 2022.

Update: Outdoor Recess During Winter Months

With winter officially upon us, we want to share a few important updates/reminders for families:

  • *NEW in 2021-22: District 97 believes it is important for students to have opportunities for physical activity and playtime during the day—even during the cold winter months. This winter, students will be permitted to go outside for recess when the wind chill or temperature is 15 degrees or higher. The district utilizes the Wind Chill Chart developed by the National Weather Service.

    • It is important that students dress in warm layers when cold temperatures are expected. Students should remember to bring hats, gloves/mittens, scarves, coats, snow pants and boots. It is recommended that families label these items with their children’s names,

  • Our staff will carefully monitor students while outside and take the necessary steps to ensure students are appropriately clothed/prepared for the cold weather, watching out for signs of frostbite and other cold-related issues.

  • In order to preserve our classroom pods and COVID-19 safety protocols, schools will not be able to allow students to enter their buildings early in cold weather. Please arrive at the designated time and ensure that students are dressed in warm layers.

Updated Breakfast/Lunch Menus

Please be advised the breakfast/lunch menus have been updated slightly due to product shortages. The updated menu can be found HERE (it is linked on the Food Services page of the district website).

COVID-19 Symptom Checklist and Instructions for Symptomatic Students

In October, the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Illinois State Board of Education released updated guidance and an updated exclusion decision tree. As a result, we have updated some of our protocols and required documents for symptomatic students. CLICK HERE for a one-page summary of the required steps and testing for students who are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19.

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The Last Word Updates

Safety Protocol for snack and lunch Reminder

Staff, we want to remind you to continue to have your windows cracked open especially when students are snacking or having lunch. During these times please continue to remind them they must remain silent. Remind students of proper mask-wearing (keep mask over mouth and nose.) Lastly, students should continue to be at least 3ft apart from one another in class. We thank you for your cooperation.

Lunch/Recess Schedule Update

On days of inclement weather, prior to the lunch block, we have been trying to make sure all rooms are covered. We will continue our recent practice of sharing with staff the needs prior to the lunch block beginning. We will look at rooms without supervision in advance and send out SOS/Building logistic emails. We are very short-staffed and work diligently to find someone to cover shifts. Thank you for your patience during this time.

Clarification Regarding Student AM Pick Up

Effective Monday, September 27th, 2021, all certified staff are to report outside at 7:57 am to pick up students. All TAs report time remains 7:50 am.

Active Supervision

We need to ensure there's active supervision happening at all times. Morning supervision looks like staff moving about the door area outside, including anyone meeting a student at any of the doors. After school supervision, it looks like staff watching students go off to their home/daycare person. All recess supervision looks like staff moving around their area(s) interacting with students-a really great way to build relationships. Students quickly catch on and get into things when they see a pair/group of staff together. The more they notice us walking around, having very quick chats, the less likely they will get into behaviors that do not follow our 3 B's. In addition, we may have others outside the perimeter watching for opportunities to cause havoc. Let's work together to keep all Wildcats safe, inside and outside the building.

Message from District Office - Regarding All Staff Meetings and Events

Recently there has been discussion around virtual participation for staff and committee meetings. To further clarify Staff are required to be onsite in their respective buildings for participation in meetings that take place during the workday -- building level meetings. Staff will be expected to keep their cameras on during meetings unless unusual circumstances prevent it. Meetings that take place outside the workday -- district level meetings (e.g., Ed Council, Diversity Council) may be attended virtually offsite with the exception of “Parent-Teacher Conferences,” “Curriculum Night,” “Contractual Staff Meetings,” and additional meetings to be determined by the Superintendent. All staff must be onsite for district Institute Days.


Staff should utilize SchoolDude for any requests or needed assistance. The office will definitely reach out to our custodial staff for urgent needs, spills, vomit, accidents, etc. Filling out SchoolDudes allows B&G to see just how much work is happening around our building and allows us to show a snapshot of our building's daily needs.

Whittier-COVID-19 Safety Procedures:

Please read through as some things have been updated.

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Information you may add to your newsletter!


Each Spring, all District 97 students in Grades 3 to 8 take federally-required assessments to help us understand how they are growing academically. Since 2019, the state has utilized the Illinois Assessment of Readiness (IAR) to assess students’ knowledge and skills in English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics, as well as their progress toward the long-term goal of college and career readiness.

This year, the IAR will be administered to Whittier students between April 5 and 14. Specific grade level schedules will be coming soon.

Check out our “5 Things to Know About IAR” document to learn more about this year’s assessment!

Lunch/Recess Supervisors

To support our students and staff during the school day, we are still seeking more parents and community members to serve as lunchroom/recess supervisors during the 2021-22 school year. It's easy to apply, and your time would have a direct impact on our schools. CLICK HERE to apply!


Our school's custom fundraising website has been created. You can start spreading the word to families by sharing the message below and our link in your classrooms newsletter. Families can search for their child's work by their first and last name. Personalized order forms are coming soon.

Hi families and friends,
Our school is participating in a creative fundraiser with Art to Remember that allows you to purchase keepsake products customized with your child's art. There are over 60 products and many are less than $15. These make great gifts and a percentage of every purchase goes right back to our school. Click on the link below and enter the online order code shown on your child's order form or to search for your child's artwork. Then, have fun shopping!

Mask Reminder

Wearing face masks consistently and correctly is a key strategy to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our schools. Below are a few important reminders for students, staff, and families:

  • The face-covering should cover the mouth and nose at all times. The CDC Use of Face Coverings provides helpful explanations about the use and care of face coverings.
  • Bandanas, masks with valves, and gaiters are not allowed in District 97 schools, as they allow for leakage of aerosolized droplets.
  • District 97 expects all students and staff to bring and wear their own cloth or disposable masks whenever possible and appropriate. Anyone who forgets their reusable mask will be provided a disposable mask. If possible, students should
    keep a second cloth mask with their belongings.

Food Allergies/Nut-Safe Schools
Please visit to access information about the district’s food allergy management program, as well as tips and options for identifying food that is safe for snacks and field trips.

Nuts and nut products are not allowed in District 97 schools during the 2021-22 school year. This includes products that are labeled “processed in a facility that shares equipment with nut products.” The shift to include lunch was necessary as many students may be eating their lunch in spaces other than the lunchroom due to COVID-19 protocols.

John Greenleaf Whittier

Where you belong!

Chasity McComb-Williams

Assistant Principal

Twitter: @mccombwilliams

Patrick CL Robinson


Twitter: @PCLRobinson