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JULY 28: District 109 To Start Year In Virtual Learning with Phased Student Re-entry

July 28, 2020

Deerfield Public Schools District 109 will begin the 2020-2021 academic year in a virtual learning setting with a phased approach to student re-entry on campus. The recommendation made by the district’s co-interim superintendents, Dr. Jane Westerhold and Ed Rafferty, was approved by the Board of Education last night.

See the community note sent out today by the co-interim superintendents:

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District 109 Families:

The Board of Education has accepted our recommendation to begin the 2020-2021 school year in a virtual learning setting with a phased re-entry into school. The first day of “109 Online” will take place as scheduled on August 19. 

While we are starting in virtual learning, it is District 109’s intention to offer in person instruction in some form this fall. We will form a supplementary committee to determine, monitor, and evaluate the evolving health and safety conditions. A remote learning option will always be available for the entire school year for families that wish to partake in it.

 In June, this district stated our intention was to start the year in-person, and that intent was sincere. Our Reopening Committee of over 70 administrators, teachers, parents, students and community partners has worked tirelessly over the last few weeks to consider a multitude of scenarios and examine the details needed to pull off a safe return to school. We believed we would be able to offer the choice of an in-person option and a remote option. However, the situation has continued to evolve. We have read hundreds of emails from parents and staff over the past week, and we’ve continued to look at the public health situation in our area and the state. 

We knew that whatever decision we reached would be met with significant disappointment, frustration, and even cause hardships for many in our community. When it came down to it, it is our belief that remote learning is the safest and most sustainable option at this time. School just wouldn’t be the same in-person right now with all of the necessary protocols needed, and the risks of potential exposure. A teacher wouldn’t be able to console a crying child. Wearing face coverings all day as adults is hard enough, and there seems to be universal agreement that it would be immensely harder for students. 

Here’s how starting the year remotely benefits students:

1) They will have an uninterrupted education regardless of the challenges caused by the pandemic.

2) They will have a robust online program that mirrors the regular school day.

3) They will be able to participate in small group and collaborative learning that social distancing protocols wouldn’t provide in-person.

 You can read more about the “109 Online” program at www.dps109.org/109online. You can find a copy of the Reopening Committee’s presentation here. Please also be on the lookout for a video sent out by the District later this week walking everyone through the 109 Online experience.

While this issue may divide parents and other adults in this community, we all need to work together to make this school year the best it can be for the students of Deerfield. Thank you for your patience and understanding in this trying time.

Sincerely,

Ed Rafferty & Dr. Jane L. Westerhold
Co-Interim Superintendents of Schools