A Message from Superintendent Dr. Shawn M. Olson ~ 11/24/20
As some of the school districts around us have announced an Adaptive Pause and a return to remote learning, I think it is imperative that I lay out our District’s plan to keep all of our students and staff safe. While it is true that the number of positive cases in our community is on the rise, our school numbers, in most cases, remain relatively low. Our shared commitment to the health of our students and staff, coupled with effective school mitigation procedures, including wearing masks and maintaining a social distance of at least six feet, has definitely contributed to the successful reopening of our schools.
Despite our best efforts, however, we must recognize that our community and state are experiencing a drastic increase in COVID-19 positivity rates. As a result, we are seeing a spike in both students and staff needing to quarantine due to outside positive cases (i.e., a member of the household tests positive, they were around a positive individual at an elective gathering or community event). The daily stressor our schools face is centered around managing the growing number of quarantines related to COVID exposure or close contact.
It is crucial that you understand that staffing is and will continue to be the biggest hurdle we face when trying to keep the District open for in-person learning. To put it simply, if I do not have the staff, I cannot keep the buildings open. As the numbers in our community continue to rise, staffing in classrooms and on bus routes becomes increasingly challenging, and the risk of regressing to fully remote learning is real. While it is my goal to remain open for in-person learning, families need to be prepared for an Adaptive Pause at a school or even for our entire District.
Moving to remote learning due to an Adaptive Pause may come quickly, but I will do everything in my power to communicate with you any trends and information about likely scenarios as soon as we have the information. Closing at any level is a decision that will not be made without data and guidance from the Cook County Department of Public Health (CCDPH).
Again, it is my goal to remain open for in-person learning as long as our metrics stay low, and I have the staff to do so. If we determine that an Adaptive Pause is needed, we will communicate the date we will begin fully remote learning to families through our Infinite Campus messaging system. Please make sure your contact information is correct in your Parent Portal. Additional information will also be posted on our District and school websites.
Please note, when all students are learning remotely due to an Adaptive Pause or State Order, the two-hour midday transportation break currently embedded in our school schedules is not needed. School start/end times will remain unchanged, but instructional time will expand to fill the midday gap. Details regarding a return to remote learning due to an Adaptive Pause or State Order can be found in our Back-to-School Plan.
Finally, my thanks go out to our students, families, and staff for your understanding and partnership. I hope that you have a safe and restful Thanksgiving.
Dr. Shawn M. Olson