Whittier Wildcat Word!

Friday, August 26, 2022

Big picture

A Message from Principal Robinson

Greetings Whittier Wildcats,

The 2022-23 school year is off to a great start! The students have been working hard and have done a fantastic job adjusting from summer break to school. Hats off to the tremendously talented Whittier Wildcat staff for their intentionality in planning and delivering engaging welcome back activities to assist in helping our friends get back into the routine of school. I have enjoyed observing our friends working hard while having fun in and out of the classroom.

The Whittier staff looks forward to all our wildcat families at Curriculum Night on Wednesday, September 15, 2022, from 5:30 -8 pm. We want our families to learn about the many wonderful learning programs we plan to engage our scholars in throughout the school year.

As always, please feel free to contact us (708-524-3080) if you have any questions. If you need to schedule a meeting with Mrs. McComb-Willaims or me, please contact Ms. McGee (amcgee@op97.org) or Mrs. Alexander (ljohnson1@op97.org) at 708-524-3080 to schedule a meeting.


Patrick CL Robinson

Whittier School Principal

Whittier School - Where I Belong!

Big picture


One of our goals this year is to strengthen the relationship between home and school. In particular, findings ways for the Whittier community to know the staff at Whittier. Therefore, each week, we will randomly pick a staff member from an envelope to spotlight.


  1. Hello! My Name is... Rebecca Torres

  2. I am...one of the Early Childhood Teachers and how long have you worked at Whittier? This is my 6th year at Whittier!

  3. My favorite color is... Purple!

  4. What I like most about Whittier is...How wonderfully supportive everyone is to each other!

  5. If I had a SuperPower it would be… Why? I would speak every language in the world! It would be amazing to be able to communicate with everyone you meet!

  6. If I was an animal I would be a house cat because they get to lounge in the house all day, eat, sleep and play around as they please. :)

  7. What advice would you give the scholars of Whittier? Pencils have erasers for a reason...everyone makes mistakes! You just have to try again! I always follow the advice of the wise teacher...Miss Frizzle :) "Take chances, make mistakes and get messy!"

Upcoming Dates

August 2022:

Monday, Aug. 29th - Friday, Sept. 16th

  • D97 Fall Assessment Window (All K-5)


September 2022:

Monday, Sep. 5th

  • No School - Labor Day

Thursday, Sep. 15th (New Date)

  • First Day of Hispanic Heritage Month
  • Curriculum Night
    • Whittier, Where I Belong: Leadership Presentation (Auditorurim): 5:30 -6:15 pm
    • K-2 Curriculum Night - 6:30 - 7:00 pm
    • Special Area Curriculum Night (Library Learning Center) - 7:00 - 7:30 pm
    • 3-5 Curriculum Night - 7:30 - 8:00 pm
Big picture

Whittier School Supply List for SY22/23

Please click here to view each grade level's 2022-2023 school year supply list.


At Whittier, we want to support each student as best we can during these challenging times. Our PTO received financial funds from an anonymous donor that we can use to support our students and families in need.

If your scholar(s) is in need of school supplies or Whittier Wear, please take a few minutes to help us better understand how we can support your family's current needs by filling out the google form below. Someone from our school will be in touch with you within the week. Please fill this out for EACH child in your family. Thank you in advance.


Please note - ALL these responses will be kept confidential and can only be accessed by school social workers, the assistant principal, and the principal.

Mask Requirements at Indoor Events

To support community safety, District 97 currently has differentiated masking requirements based on the type of gathering. This information is outlined in the table below. Please note that we will be following the highlighted requirements for Whittier Elementary School.

District 97 Masking Protocols for Gatherings

  • Only District 97 students and staff are present

    • Guideline: Masks are strongly recommended

    • Examples: During the school day, after-school programs

  • Gatherings that include individuals who are not students and staff

    • Guideline: Masks are required

    • Examples:

      • Concerts, performances and ceremonies;

      • Large school events (e.g., back-to-school, open house, curriculum night);

      • Any portion of field trips spent indoors, including on buses, if students are transported to field trips via bus.

Thank you for supporting us by taking this precautionary measure to ensure and maintain the safety and health of our school communities.


Absence Notification

The tardy bell for students rings at 8:00 am each day of school. The teachers report attendance to the office by 8:10 each morning. If a student is absent and we are unaware of the reason for the absence, we phone the home/office numbers of the parents. In an absence from school, PLEASE CALL THE SCHOOL OFFICE BY 8:15 am or by 12:15 pm. To ensure your child’s safety, we will follow up on unreported absences with a telephone call. Please help us by calling in your child’s absence (708-665-3070). We can receive your message 24 hours a day.

Attending school has a huge impact on student success. This year we want to make sure every student has PERFECT ATTENDANCE or attendance of 97%. We need your help.

Some Attendance Tips to Promote Student Learning:

  • Make sure your students keep a regular bedtime and establish a morning routine to be rested and alert when they get to school.

  • Turn off all electronics, including TVs, phones, and tablets, at bedtime.

  • Make sure clothes and backpacks are ready the night before.

  • Check with our school nurse or office staff if you are unsure when to keep your child home due to illness.

  • Avoid scheduling vacations or doctor’s appointments when school is in session.

  • Talk to teachers, student support for advice if your student feels anxious about going to school.

  • Develop backup plans for getting to school if something comes up. Call on a family member, neighbor, or another parent to take your student to school.

Would you please let us know how we can best support you and your student so that they can show up for school on time every day?

Line Up Locations and Expectations

Below is a map of our school from the outside. Please locate your grade/teacher surrounding the school to know where your class will line up. Remember when you arrive at 7:50, you will go straight to your line-up spot. Parent(s)/Guardian(s) of kindergarten students, August 24th-August 26th, you may stand next to your student while they are in line to enter the building. Starting Monday, August 29th, we will need for all parent(s)/guardian(s) to stand away from the lines allowing all students the opportunity to practice lining up as this carries over throughout the school day.

Please keep all sports balls and toys home. As always listen to adult directions while on the playground

Big picture


As a reminder, the State of Illinois requires the following:

  • All students entering kindergarten and any students new to District 97 must turn in a current school physical (Certificate of Child Health Examination and Immunization record) with up-to-date immunizations.
  • All kindergartners and students new to the State must submit a professional eye examination (State of Illinois Eye Examination Form). Due by May 15, 2023
  • All kindergarteners, 2nd graders, and sixth graders must submit a dental examination (Proof of Dental Examination Form). Exam needed by May 15, 2023
  • If your child has been diagnosed with a health condition, such as ASTHMA, FOOD ALLERGIES, DIABETES, OR SEIZURES, please provide a current EMERGENCY ACTION PLAN (completed by your child's doctor) along with the DISTRICT 97 MEDICATION AUTHORIZATION FORM. All medication forms and Action Plans must be renewed at the beginning of every school year. Forms can be found by visiting our Health Services Page.

Further information about all of the health requirements can be found here. If you have not already provided this information when you registered your child, please email your childs' records directly to Nurse Winkelhake, hwinkelhake@op97.org.
Big picture
Big picture
Big picture

*NEW* 2022-23 School Meal Information

Welcome to the 2022-23 school year, District 97 families! Below is important school meal information to help you prepare for the upcoming year. Breakfast and Lunch Menus for the 2022-23 school year are now available on the district website and school websites.

“Free School Meals for All” Ends

For the past two years, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has made it possible for school districts to serve all students free breakfast and lunch through waivers due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The USDA free meal waiver is now expired and will not be extended for the upcoming school year. During the 2022-23 school year, all students will be required to pay for their breakfast and lunch meals unless they are directly approved by the State of Illinois or approved after completing the 2022-23 Free and Reduced Lunch Application (see below for instructions).

Free or Reduced Meal Eligibility

Students may receive meals at a free or reduced cost either by being directly approved by the State of Illinois OR being approved after completing the 2022-23 Free and Reduced Lunch Application. In the coming weeks, all families who are directly approved by the state will receive an approval letter by email. If you receive a letter, there is NO NEED to complete an application.

If you feel your student may qualify for free or reduced priced meals but do not receive an approval letter, please complete the 2022-23 Free and Reduced Lunch Application as soon as possible. There are several options for completing and submitting your application (see below).

  • Apply Online - We recommend families to complete the 2022-23 Free and Reduced Lunch application online. Click here for step-by-step instructions on how to easily set up a secure Mealtime account and complete the application online.

  • Download, Print and Submit Application - For families who prefer not to use the online system, paper applications in English and Spanish are available to download from the district website or your student’s school website. Completed applications can be dropped off at your student’s school or the district office (260 Madison St.), or emailed to the district's food service coordinator, Carla Ellis, at cellis@op97.org. You can also fax the application to 708-524-3019.

Managing Student Meal Accounts

During the 2022-23 school year, payment for school meals can be made through an online portal at www.MyMealtime.com. Families can also make payments to their meal accounts by submitting a check payable to District 97, money orders, or cash.

If you plan to use Mealtime prior to the school year starting, please take a look at your student’s account. There, you can see if your student will need funds added for the upcoming school year or if they have a meal balance that needs to be paid prior to school starting. If you do not have an account, you can easily create one by following step-by-step instructions on the MyMealtime website.

We look forward to serving your family this year! If you have any questions about the District 97 food service program, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me at cellis@op97.org.

NEW Combined Student and Family Handbook for 2022-23

This year, the district worked to merge the Effective Student Behavior Handbook and Family Handbook into one comprehensive resource, the Student-Family Handbook, in order to streamline information for families and staff. The new handbook contains important information regarding school policies, procedures, student rights and responsibilities, and important notifications required by state and federal law.

The purpose of this handbook is to outline the expectations for building an educational community where everyone feels safe, included and able to learn. Having shared expectations, procedures and policies helps us respect all members of the school community in which we learn and work every day. Please take the time to read through the handbook and review it with your child.

School Fees

The district is currently accepting fee payments for the 2022-23 school year. Full payment is due by September 30, 2022. You can access the fee information by visiting https://www.op97.org/business-office/fees.

Technology Update

Please visit https://bit.ly/3pxoN0I for information from the district’s technology department about the deployment of student devices, online filtering at home, the district’s acceptable use policy, and the procedures and protocols that are used to set up accounts for students.

*NEW* Food Allergy Safety Guidelines 2022-23

District 97 is committed to creating a positive learning environment for all students that is safe, equitable, inclusive, and focused on the whole child. To that end, the number of children with food allergies is increasing. Approximately 10% to 15% of our students have a food allergy. The most common allergen is nuts of any kind.

Every food-allergic reaction has the possibility of turning into a life-threatening reaction within minutes. With this in mind, we created a Food Allergy Management Program for the district that will help preserve and protect the health and safety of our students. This program includes the following guidelines/requirements.

  • Nuts and nut products are not allowed in any of our schools. This includes products labeled "processed in a facility that shares equipment with nut products." The shift to include lunch was necessary as many students may eat their lunch in spaces other than the lunchroom.

  • There is NO food sharing between students at any time during school.

  • There is NO eating or drinking on school buses.

PLEASE NOTE: If a student in your child's classroom is allergic to other food products that must be restricted, your child's teacher will let you know what those products are and what steps if any, need to be taken in conjunction with the district's Food Allergy Management Program.

How to identify safer foods to send to school for snacks and on field trips:

  1. Please read all packaging to ensure the item is not produced on equipment shared with nuts.

  2. Consult the "Snack Safely" website for information about specific product brands and suggestions for safe food options.

  3. Below is a list of several potential safe food options. However, as stated above, please consult with your child's classroom teacher to determine if classroom-specific restrictions apply to any of them.


Fresh fruit

Fresh vegetables

Dried fruits

Yogurt without granola topping


Fruit juice

Lean meats

Packaged popcorn


We appreciate your partnership in promoting the health and safety of our children. Please contact your child's school nurse if you have questions or need more information.

Meal Information for the 2022-23 School Year

The breakfast and lunch menus for our elementary and middle schools are available at http://www.op97.org/business-office/food-service. During the 2022-23 school year, students may:

Bring a nut-free lunch from home.

Order school lunch.

PLEASE NOTE: During the 2022-23 school year, all students will be required to pay for their breakfast and lunch meals unless they are directly approved by the State of Illinois or approved after completing the 2022-23 Free and Reduced Meal Application.

D97 Updated Covid Preventative Strategies

Continued Preventative Strategies

District 97 schools will continue to utilize the CDC’s recommendations for “everyday strategies” to prevent the spread of infectious disease, including COVID-19. This includes:

Masking will continue to be strongly recommended, but not required, during the school day. Masks will continue to be required for any portion of field trips spent indoors or on buses, and for large events that include individuals who are not students or staff, unless school personnel determine that unmasking is necessary (e.g., student performers). Please review the mitigation plan for full details.

Individuals who test positive for COVID-19 must stay home for five days after the first day of symptoms or testing positive (Day 0), and may return on or after Day 6 with resolving symptoms. For full details on isolation requirements, click here.

*NEW* Process for Reporting Positive Cases to District 97 Schools

Instead of emailing or calling their school nurse, families of students who test positive AND staff who test positive will be asked to complete a confidential COVID-19 positive case notification form. This process will help our schools more efficiently manage cases and provide timely information to the Oak Park Department of Public Health.

Families must continue to report student absences via the school attendance line, and staff must enter their absences in Frontline.

NEW: Testing

In alignment with CDC guidance, District 97 will no longer offer weekly screening testing through SHIELD. However, we will maintain a supply of over-the-counter, at-home antigen kits that could be offered to students and staff preemptively or at the onset of illness. We will also maintain the ability to utilize SHIELD in the event of an outbreak. This testing approach was used successfully in our summer programs this year, allowing us to maintain safe classrooms without disrupting instructional time or placing a heavy burden on school staff.

Free COVID-19 testing and at-home kits are now widely available in our community. We encourage all families to take advantage of the federal program that provides free home tests through the mail—click here to order.

Additionally, based on legal guidance, District 97 will not require weekly testing of unvaccinated employees at this time.

NEW: Case Notifications and Public Reporting

We are committed to providing families with actionable data/information so they can make choices that fit their needs. Please review CDC guidance regarding exposure risk and steps you can take to protect yourself and your family.

Schools will continue to send emails to families and staff within the same class as the positive case, as well as families of students who ride the same bus or participate in the same district-sponsored extracurricular activity. Individuals who are close contacts are not required to quarantine unless they become symptomatic.

In alignment with District 200, we are discontinuing our COVID-19 dashboard. We will continue to track cases internally, just as we do for other illnesses, and will provide all required information to the Oak Park Department of Public Health. Our website will provide links to the village’s weekly reports, as well as other resources for tracking cases locally. Please be assured that we will continue to provide timely communication regarding health and safety concerns in our schools, including instances where we are seeing increased spread of any illness.

Important information, resources and updates related to COVID-19 will continue to be available on the District 97 website.

Big picture

*NEW* Process for Reporting Positive COVID-19 Cases to D97 Schools

If a student or staff member tests positive for COVID-19, they must complete the following steps:

1) To notify the school nurse and receive a return-to-school date, families/staff must complete the confidential COVID-19 Positive Case Notification Form as soon as possible following the positive test. Information provided will also be shared with the Oak Park Department of Public Health.

2) Families must continue to report student absences via the school attendance line, and staff must enter their absences in Frontline.

To see the rules for isolation and quarantine, click here. Additional resources are linked below.

As always, thank you for your continued collaboration and support! Enjoy the remainder of your SUMMER!

John Greenleaf Whittier Elementary

Where You Belong!

Patrick CL Robinson



Twitter: @PCLRobinson

Chasity McComb-Williams

Assistant Principal


Twitter: @mccombwilliams