A Message from the Superintendent

Week 1 Update and Plans for the Future

Dear District 41 Community, clic para espanol

As we conclude the first full week of school, I want to touch base and let you know that we sincerely wish we could be with our students together in person. Thank you to all families and staff for hanging in there with us as we began the school year in this different way. We have heard a lot of positive comments and also many concerns. We welcome your feedback and we will continue to make adjustments. All of us recognize that this is not the optimal learning model for our students, but it will be important that we have a solid remote model in our back pocket on the chance that we need to shift into full remote anytime this year.

According to an Illinois State Board of Education survey (of those who responded) nearly 1.1 million students, roughly 62% of those enrolled, will do their work online only. I want everyone to know that even though we started remote like many districts in Illinois, we are committed to implementing our blended model. We spent months developing our model and want nothing more than the ability to bring our students back in person. We continue to watch the information coming from the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) including the framework and metrics for reopening schools. This information was released to the public today and we will aggressively work through the information internally and with input from our Pandemic Response Advisory Team.

Here is a link to exclusion guidance from the IDPH. It’s another layer to a complicated decision making process. It is very important that parents read the exclusion information because it will have a significant impact on school attendance. As we do the work to implement our blended model, I strongly encourage parents to think about the plans that you will need in the event that your child/children falls into one of the exclusionary categories based on being symptomatic, exposed or a confirmed positive case. I am not sharing this to create fear. I want everyone to have plenty of time to think through what your childcare needs might be in the event that you have to plan for an unexpected and multi-day quarantine. I would also like to take this opportunity to clarify for our families that our target of the end of Quarter 1 to implement our blended model was not arbitrary or fictitious. We remain committed to implementing our blended model. Our target date was intentional and allows us to refine our full remote model because we may need to revert back to full remote throughout this year. Our target date also allows us to make a well-orchestrated shift while also remaining cognizant of the local health data.

I also want to assure our families that we are thinking about how we can best serve our youngest learners and students who have specialized learning needs. Our path back to our blended model is a work in progress and does not need to be a one-size-fits-all approach. I hear your urgency and your concern and will keep it at the forefront as we move forward.

Again, the DCHD Framework for Reopening Schools along with the metrics was releaseed today. We will be sharing more detailed information next week. For now, please keep in mind that now have the ability to define all of the factors that impact our ability to open in person and remain open.

I hope that this information allows you to go into the weekend knowing that our work in D41 is moving forward.

Dr. Melissa Kaczkowski


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