November 15, 2020
Adaptive Pause Extended
Dear Parents and Staff:
In our last communication to you following our November 11 Board of Education meeting, we shared the District will be taking an Adaptive Pause beginning the week of November 30 to curb the spread of COVID-19 following the Thanksgiving holiday. This action was taken as we know members of our staff and community, as discussed at the meeting, may attend family gatherings resulting in more potential transmission within our schools. The pause, we felt, would allow time for people who may contract COVID during such celebrations to become symptomatic before returning to school and therefore continue to isolate. Since that decision was shared at the Board meeting on Wednesday evening, some important developments took place that have caused us to modify not only our thinking, but our plan regarding in-person learning during the month ahead.
On Friday, November 13, the Cook County Department of Public Health issued a stay at home advisory. This is not a mandate, but a recommendation based upon public health guidance. The advisory goes into effect Monday, November 16 and will last at least 30 days.
In light of this advisory going into effect, we have heard from many staff members and parents that do not feel safe remaining in school during this stay at home advisory period. Although we have worked hard on our ongoing mitigation efforts, sharply rising community numbers and the county’s attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19 are what prompted this advisory to be implemented and for us to reconsider our plan.
Over the weekend, we surveyed our staff to ask if they felt students should learn remotely in light of the advisory being issued. Nearly 80 percent of staff responded “yes.”
While I know there are varying opinions on this subject ranging from full support to stay open for in-person instruction to advocating for a return to remote learning, the thoughts and feelings of all stakeholders are something we must continue to take into consideration when proceeding with our plans through the remainder of the year. Our staff has worked hard during this trying time, and they are becoming increasingly concerned for their own safety due to the recent surge in positivity rates and health department advisory.
In light of the stay at home advisory, District 15 will implement an Adaptive Pause District-wide beginning Wednesday, November 18. According to the CCDPH, the Pause will last at least 30 days. District 15 will not resume in-person instruction until Winter Break concludes. We will reevaluate conditions during the break period and will inform everyone if we will be resuming school on Tuesday, January 5 as scheduled, or if the Adaptive Pause will need to be extended.
During the Adaptive Pause, students will all learn remotely, as we did to start the 2020-21 school year. Materials will be sent home with students on Monday and/or Tuesday to prepare for remote learning. Most staff will also be working from home during the Adaptive Pause period unless they choose to teach or work from their classroom or office spaces. More information will be provided to staff this week.
I know this decision will come with mixed feedback from our parents, staff and the larger community, with some in support of the plan and others against it. I certainly understand the challenges that working parents will face who rely on our schools for childcare and the overall stressors of fully remote learning. Navigating educational plans during the ups and downs of this pandemic has come with no “right” answers or perfect solutions. In the end, I have to make decisions based upon the health and safety of everyone in our buildings, both students and adults.
Thank you for your continued support and understanding.
Your partner in education,
Dr. Laurie Heinz
Superintendent of Schools