Superintendent's Corner

Avoca District 37 😎 🏫 😎 September 1, 2021

In this issue...

  • Opening School Safely
  • COVID Procedures: Updates & Reminders (including travel) & Uploading Vax Info.
  • Financial Advisory Committee Report
  • Short Note - Calendar Change for March/April 2022
  • Upcoming Jewish Holidays - Learning More
  • External Opportunity for Students Interested in Artificial Intelligence

Opening Schools Safely 🏫 🏫 🏫

Thanks to our custodial and maintenance staff, our bus drivers, our instructional aides, office staff, and especially our teachers and students, we have been able to open school successfully and safely.

Many of you have sought to understand why and how we are operating school the way we are this year - either compared to last year or compared to pre-pandemic. We appreciate the feedback and please know that we are listening and seeking to improve how we safely operate school.

Of course, we are balancing that with providing the most effective learning experience we can for our students. We all agree that last year - whether remote, hybrid, or even when we were back in person full time - we were not able to provide a learning environment as effective as that we provide right now.

Whether it is pickup and drop off (the bus is a great alternative), lunch operations, mask breaks, and more, we are only 6 days into the school year and we expect to learn lessons now that will make school safe and supportive and we expect as the weather changes and COVID dynamics change that we will have to be nimble in how we respond. Thanks for your patience as we grow into the year together.

Reminder: COVID Related Procedures & Uploading Vax Info 🦠 🦠

The most important aspects of keeping our schools safe during COVID are related to

  1. Getting vaccinated (when eligible);
  2. Masking at all times indoors except lunch, and;
  3. NOT sending students to school when they are feeling ill.

When students are symptomatic they should be kept home until they get a negative test and also please get any household members tested immediately. Our nurses have a tough job, so we appreciate as much support and cooperation as you can give them.

Related to COVID procedures, what to do as a result of travel has been challenging, and the District is changing its response when families travel. Essentially, following travel quarantine guidance from Cook County Department of Public Health (CCDPH) will be up to families, which is consistent with CCDPH's current response to its travel guidance. Here is the why and the what behind this decision:

  • The school cannot regularly and effectively monitor the changing guidance for which states require quarantine or not after travel;
  • The school cannot proactively monitor when families go on vacation or where they go;
  • When families report an absence due to travel, it will be up to the family - not the school - to decide to follow the travel CCDPH guidance on travel quarantine upon return.

Finally, one aspect of COVID procedures that effects quarantine is vaccination. Especially if you have a middle school student, make sure you complete the vaccination information form (by clicking here) and upload any relevant documentation securely, since knowing vaccination status will facilitate more effective contract tracing by our staff and vaccination individuals are less likely to have to quarantine, depending on the circumstances.

Financial Advisory Committee Report 💰 🏦💰

Over the next few posts, I will catch you up on work that took place this summer which will play some part in our collaboration as a community this year. This week, I want to encourage you to read the report to the Board of Education issued by the Financial Advisory Committee.

This committee of staff, parents, and community members reviewed the District's financial state and outlined for the Board the major issues related to the future status of revenues, expenditures, and the financial health of District 37. The committee members' names are outlined at the beginning of the report and they deserve our thanks for taking hours out of their summer to be part of this project.

You can find the full report by clicking here. If have any questions about what you read, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Note Calendar Change in March/April 2022 📆 📆 📆

Due to a fortuitous error in the school calendar registered with the state, we had to revise the calendar for this school year, and in doing so, made specific changes around Spring Break that we believe will benefit staff and students. Please note the following about the calendar in March and April 2022

What stays the same?

  • March 23 and 24 are Parent/Guardian/Teacher Conferences
  • March 25 is a non-attendance day for students

What changes?

  • March 25 is a non-attendance day for certified staff
  • April 4 (Monday after Spring Break) is a non-attendance day for students
  • April 4 is an Institute Day for certified staff
  • April 5 is the first day of student attendance after Spring Break

I apologize for this change coming at this time, but I do believe it will result in a better Spring Break for students and staff and a better return from Spring Break too.

Upcoming Jewish Holidays - Learning More

On September 7 and September 16, school will not be in session in District 37. Many families will be observing Jewish holidays - Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, respectively.

One of our greatest strengths in the Avoca community is our rich racial, ethnic, linguistic, and religious diversity. That strength is only realized when we do our best to learn about our diverse backgrounds and draw on that learning when we interact with one another.

If you would like to learn more about these two important Jewish Holidays, please click here. (This post and the related link do not represent a religious endorsement or promotion of any kind on the part of the District or Administration.)

External Opportunity for Students (6-8) Interested in Artificial Intelligence 🤖 💻 🤖

A group of doctoral and post-doctoral students from Stanford & MIT are leading a mini-learning course for students online focusing on Artificial Intelligence. Middle School students are eligible.

If you would like to learn more, please click on the link below. This program is not affiliated with District 37, but appears to be a high quality enrichment experience for students interested in Artificial Intelligence.