D230 Reopening Update

January 3, 2022

Dear D230 Families & Students,

I sincerely hope that your break was both enjoyable and allowed for an opportunity to rest and reboot. Our successes from last semester were plenty - we maintained our calendar, our activities ran with very few interruptions, our staff worked above and beyond to create as normal of an experience as possible for our students and families as they know the importance our schools have within our community.

In-person learning is essential

Additionally, after several meetings with both the IDPH and ISBE, their focus clearly has become that in-person learning for children is essential - something we knew long ago! Specifically, IDPH highlighted the mental health impacts of the pandemic on youth including dramatically increased hospitalizations due to mental health and spikes with drug and alcohol usage among teens as a need to remain open. ISBE noted the same, but included clear learning impacts that were an unfortunate byproduct of school closures. I certainly agree and believe in the immense value in reopening for student onsite learning.


To that note, we are preparing to open for this upcoming semester and continue to progress to a more normal school experience. That being said, the substantial impact we are seeing regarding the Omicron variant and the substantial increase in positive cases in our community is going to make at least January a challenge. As of today, we are awaiting the decision from the Austin court case being heard in Sangamon County on January 5th to determine its impact on masking or quarantine guidelines. We are awaiting the IDPH/CCDPH response to the CDC modification in quarantine timelines as well as other potential modifications to test to stay and outbreak testing within schools.

3 key focus areas to remain open

There are three key areas we must all focus on to ensure we can remain open:

  • Availability staff to safely conduct school - particularly true with bus drivers, food service workers, substitute teachers, and cleaning/maintenance staff.

  • Availability of tests to allow for students and staff to remain at school.

  • Personal responsibility by us all to stay home if symptomatic and limit activities that we know are high risk for containing the spread of the virus


In short, we are prepared to open, we acknowledge the challenges ahead, we remain focused on adjusting as needed, and we are committed to maintaining open and transparent communication.

Temporary adjustments to Reopening Plan

The following information is temporary adaptations to our Reopening Plan. These adaptations will be regularly reviewed and modified as conditions change or more information is made available.

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Teacher Institute Day (January 5, 2022)

Teacher Institute Day is planned for January 5th and is onsite for all staff and administration. Staff will be participating in organizational meetings, therefore will not be available for parents or students. Meetings are organized with social distancing and other mitigations in mind. Co-curricular activities may begin at 2:30 pm, but please check with your coaches/sponsors on specific times.

Staff Preparation Day (January 6, 2022)

Staff Preparation Day is scheduled for January 6th and is onsite for all staff and administration. All staff will be working through late grading, adjusting instruction/facilities/food distribution and other needs due to the circumstances of the pandemic. This will be a day free of meetings, so it will allow for communication between staff and families, but students will not be allowed to be on site other than for co-curriculars which may begin at 3 pm, but please check with your coaches/sponsors on specific times.

eLearning Day (January 7, 2022)

eLearning Days - during second semester, eLearning days will only be considered when we cannot safely conduct normal school operations. As a reminder, eLearning days will mean our campuses are closed to both students and staff. Due to predicted staffing concerns, projected low student attendance, and the significant increase in community positivity, we believe that an eLearning day is appropriate and will help ensure a safe reopening on January 10th. Therefore, January 7th will be an eLearning day, specifically designed to provide information regarding class syllabus, expectations, and introductory assignments.


Specifics on accessing eLearning materials will be sent to students from their schools. Access quick guide here.

Adjusted bell schedule - January 10 - 21

Due to the human capacity issues we will be facing at least until Omicron no longer has this profound impact on the number of COVID positive cases and the need to quarantine within our community, we feel the need to modify our bell schedule. Staff will report to work at the usual time and students will begin their school day later.


This will allow additional time in the beginning of the school day to accommodate three major objectives:

  • Bus transportation, which has already been significantly impacted by the pandemic with a lack of available bus drivers, will need both flexibility and support. This allows for emergency rerouting and later times for students on “A” routes to ensure safety due the challenges of a Midwest winter on very early routes.
  • Staff availability, (teaching staff, support staff, food service, etc) due to quarantine or other issues, is anticipated to be a challenge. This time affords our buildings the ability to safely and appropriately organize as needed.
  • The predicted increase in student absences will also allow our staff time to organize, communicate and restructure lessons, as needed.


This bell schedule will impact Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. Wednesday late start will remain as normal.


This schedule will be in effect from January 10th - January 21st. We will review and revise based on conditions and either return to our normal schedule or continue this revised schedule as needed.


The schedule will be as follows:

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Instructional modifications

While indoors, PE will make adjustments to low risk activities until further notice. We will stress activities that avoid changing into PE uniforms, but that will not be required of all classes.

Approval of field trips is postponed until further notice. All field trips previously approved will take place, unless canceled by the host or due to other factors like inclement weather.

Appropriate modifications will be made to lab-based courses to lower, limit or replace labs that require close contact or small group work.

After school events and activities

The continuance of after-school activities and athletics is essential to our students. The goal of D230 is to maintain these activities as a priority.

However, the following factors will be enforced / modified:

  • When traveling, particularly overnight, we will review procedures such as hotel arrangements, meals, travel guidelines (both modes of transportation AND non-essential student and staff travel). These will NOT resemble past practice, but will not establish precedent.
  • Some activities will shift to remote, if appropriate. This pertains to general meetings or informational sessions, not competitions or performances unless determined necessary by CCDPH.
  • ALL spectators will be required to wear masks at all times - no exceptions.
  • Winter sports will adhere to IDPH/ISBE guidelines, but will continue as much as possible.
  • The traditional February dances will not take place. Individuals schools are looking to modify, move, or otherwise mitigate these social experiences (Prom, at this time, is currently being planned).
  • School-sponsored postseason banquets will be cancelled or rescheduled to the spring.
  • After-school food service will be suspended until further notice due to a lack of adequate staffing.

January parent events

Most events are designed for incoming freshmen (Class of 2026). These events are being revised to virtual events. This includes our Class of 2026 registration day on February 5th.


Buildings will design activities in the spring to support our incoming freshman parents.


Mid-year graduation at VJA on January 12th will take place. The 26 graduates deserve this ceremony and we are proud to celebrate their careers properly!

Lunches

Staffing for our food service operations is a concern and continues to be an area where human resources are at risk. We encourage students to bring their own lunch as we anticipate disruptions in service throughout the next few weeks.

We will be invoking mitigating measures to optimize social distancing of six feet during lunch. This will include leveraging an alternative space at each campus to space out students.


This is necessary due to the outbreak language in the current CCDPH guidance. This avoids a potential quarantine, in some cases, of hundreds of students.

Students must mask at ALL TIMES when not actively eating.

This mitigation will be reviewed weekly and relaxed when possible.

Testing / Test to Stay / Quarantine

At the time of this message, we are anticipating revised CCDPH guidelines regarding testing. We apologize this may mean further clarification of our policies once information is available to us.


Priorities are established when/if testing supplies run low. This occurred in December of 2021 and will likely remain a concern in the upcoming semester.

Our priority with onsite testing will be as follows:

  • Priority 1 - Test to Stay - this impacts students or staff who, based on CCDPH guidelines, may remain in school if they participate in this protocol.
  • Priority 2 - Outbreak Testing - this impacts students or staff who, based on CCDPH guidelines, are identified by both school and CCDPH as potential outbreaks. This testing allows those who are not COVID positive to remain on campus through testing protocols.
  • Priority 3 - Participation in state-mandated testing for designated staff.
  • Priority 4 - Testing symptomatic students or staff upon request.


Parents are STRONGLY ENCOURAGED to test at home or through local community resources versus sending symptomatic students to school.


Parents are encouraged to use the following form for students who are absent for COVID-related reasons.

We remain focused on goals of our Reopening Plan

We recognize that the uncertainty created by the COVID pandemic is challenging for us all. By working together we have remained committed to the initial goals of our reopening plan and we will continue to do so as second semester approaches.

  • 100% onsite attendance - 100% of the school year - 100% on the regular schedule.
  • No interruptions to learning due to illness or quarantine.

  • Maintain local control by following mitigations and keeping local metrics in line.


Thank you for your commitment as we empower our students to impact their communities - a vision that is even more important in our current circumstances.


Sincerely,

Dr. Bob Nolting

Superintendent