Superintendent's Corner 😎 🏫 😎

Avoca District 37 - February 22, 2021

In this issue ...

  • Moving to a Modified Onsite Daily Schedule on Wednesday, April 7, 2021
  • Important Calendar Changes - March 4th
  • Spring Break Reminder on Travel Guidance and COVID Testing
  • Learning Schedules for Next School Year - please complete the survey
  • Black History Month - resources and conversations
  • Student Voices - Amplify Avoca & Mardi Gras Masks

Modified Onsite Daily Schedule Begins on Wednesday, April 7

After exhaustive review of guidance, COVID data, experience, consulting with experts, taking survey feedback, and consulting with the Board, I have decided we will move to a Modified Onsite Daily (MOD) schedule starting April 7, 2021. This means that all of our current hybrid students for the last quarter will be able to attend school onsite every day.

A link below will take you to a multipage explanation, including how MOD will and will not operate, so it is important you read that document thoroughly. However, I would like to highlight the main points that brought me to this decision:

  • Our own experience with onsite learning shows that our layers of mitigation work and our positivity rates have been very low, with no in school transmission indicated.
  • The experience of other schools, advice of experts, and research indicate in- school transmission is lower than community transmission and schools are among the safest places to be.
  • The latest CDC guidance indicates the 6ft distance guide is not an absolute that should be an obstacle to in-person learning while community spread is low AND that staff vaccination is a meaningful layer of mitigation that protects staff and students.
  • Our medical advisor has indicated that a physical distance of 5ft or more is safe when masking and shields are in place, even during the brief lunch period. Additionally, he confirmed that class sizes can exceed 16 as long as 5ft or more distance, masking, and shields are in place.
  • Starting MOD after Spring Break will allow time for many schedule and operational adaptations that need to occur, and for all staff members to be fully vaccinated.
  • Operating MOD now will provide important learning about onsite learning for the Fall of 2021.
  • Operating MOD starting April 6 will allow for more than 25 days of onsite learning compared to the hybrid schedule in the last quarter alone.

PLEASE CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL MEMO that outlines the rationale, ramifications of moving to MOD, and next steps in great detail, including important calendar changes meant to ensure the successful transition to MOD starting April 6.

Important Calendar Changes - March 4th

The move to a MOD schedule includes many important calendar changes between now and the end of the school year. (Please make sure you read about them, as indicated above.)

Most immediately, please know that the week of March 1 -5 will look different because more than 40 staff members are receiving their second vaccination shot. This is amazingly good news and means that prior to Spring Break, all of our front line staff will be vaccinated.

However, there are well documented side-effects people experience after receiving their second dose, including fever, chills, nausea, headaches, and fatigue. Because such a high percentage of our staff are receiving their second shots on March 3, and because there is no way to predict how many will be able to work on March 4, there is some likelihood that we would not be able to operate school successfully on March 4.

Therefore, there will be no school on Thursday, March 4. Additionally, we will re-arrange the weekly calendar to look like this:
March 1 - An "A DAY" in the Hybrid Schedule (not a Remote Learning Monday)

March 2 - A "B DAY" in the Hybrid Schedule

March 3 - An "A DAY" in the Hyrbid Schedule


March 5 - A "B DAY" in the Hybrid Schedule

Spring Break Reminder - Travel Guidance & COVID Testing

Please click here to see my memo outlining the Cook County Health Department's updated Travel Guidance, which now follows the City of Chicago guidance.

This is important especially for anyone traveling over Spring Break, and most so for international travelers, who have more stringent requirements.

In order to support those returning from Spring Break and wanting to not miss any onsite learning starting April 7, the New Trier Township schools are working together to offer free COVID testing for all staff, students, and family members of both - on April 2, 3 and 4. Testing is shown to provide an additional layer of mitigation AND this provides an additional level of security for those returning from Spring Break travel.

Details about the location, times, and registration links will be shared in the weeks prior to the testing dates.

Learning Schedules for 2021-2022 - Please Remember to Take the Survey

Even as we undertake our move to a MOD schedule for the rest of this year, we are looking at longer term change to enhance our students learning schedules starting next year - separate from COVID considerations.

The teacher contract ratified by the Board and the Avoca Education Association last Fall provides for a process to give the Board of Education feedback on possible schedule changes. The Board asked the Administration to propose a schedule change for 2021-22. Click here to see that memo.

As part of that process, a Learning Schedule Committee was formed and it is now seeking feedback in the form of surveys. Please click on the survey links below. Embedded in each survey is an important informational screencast you should watch before completing the survey.

Taking the survey is an important way your voice can be heard about the potential advantages and disadvantages of the proposed schedule changes.

DRAFT AW Learning Schedule for 2021-22 Survey - Parents/Guardians

DRAFT MM Learning Schedule for 2021-22 Survey - Parents/Guardians

Black History Month continues

As I mentioned in my February 8 post, the goal for us is to make sure that meaningful Black history is woven into all of our social studies, ELA, and history lessons throughout the year, recognizing that American history is impossible without Black history. And history never stops.

Kaitlin Smith from the non-profit Facing History and Ourselves, posted a great set of Black History month resources for educators. Of course, they are good any time and useful to more than just educators. Particularly powerful are the StoryCorps resources. I encourage you to take a look at some of these and consider how you might engage your student at home around what they bring to light.

Click here for Kaitlin Smith Blog on Black History

Ms. Mishinger's French Students Share Their Mardi Gras Masks!

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