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DPS 109 To Remain In Remote Learning Until At Least January 2021 (updated calendar inside)

November 17, 2020

Good evening Deerfield 109 community:

It’s hard to believe it’s only Tuesday, but every week feels so lengthy in this extremely difficult and strenuous pandemic. Today, Governor Pritzker announced that the entire state will be moving into Tier 3 mitigations starting this weekend to combat the spread of COVID-19. You can read more about what that means here. We are very aware that this does not directly impact schools, however, it underlies the point we and the Board of Education made last night that this is not the right time to resume our full hybrid in-person learning model. We have set a path forward for the next few weeks, knowing that, frustratingly, everything must remain subject to change as we deal with a global health crisis.

Last night’s Board of Education meeting was lengthy and covered extensive ground. Please read below for important information and details that have been assembled in chronological order.

ELEMENTARY SHIFTING TO 109 ONLINE

Given the intent to remain in a full remote learning environment (as you’ll read about below), we are pivoting to a modified 109 Online schedule starting on Monday, November 30. The 109 Online learning model provides students with additional instructional minutes, which teachers can use to expand personalized academic and social-emotional learning opportunities. While your child’s 109 Online schedule may look similar to the beginning of the school year, families can anticipate more small group instruction to be embedded throughout the day. Students will not switch teachers or classes. Monday, November 23rd will now be marked as a planning day for K-5 teachers and staff to finalize details of this pivot. Elementary students will not be in attendance on that day. Elementary families can expect to receive more details on what their child’s modified schedule will look like via email on Tuesday, November 24th.

NO CURRENT MODEL CHANGE IN MIDDLE SCHOOL

Middle school students will remain in the schedule they have been following all school year.

A TARGETED RETURN DATE FOR HYBRID

The Board of Education supported our recommendation that DPS109 students will remain in a remote learning setting over the upcoming weeks, with an earliest possible return date of Tuesday, January 19th for grades K-6 & Thursday, January 21 for grades 7 & 8. We selected those dates considering a few factors:

  1. There has been an overwhelming rise in COVID-19 cases and metrics across our region and state;
  2. The upcoming weeks contain the typical “interruptions” caused by Thanksgiving and winter break;
  3. Allowing students to remain remote for two weeks when classes resume on January 4th will account for any potential travel or increased risk of exposure during the holidays;
  4. 6th graders are entering a brand new school for the first time and will benefit from having two days to get settled ahead of their older classmates. 

It is important to note that January 19th is a target that, like everything in this pandemic, can be shifted later depending on how things look in the days and weeks proceeding. We are planning as though students will be in school on January 19th, but it is not something that can be guaranteed.

When students return to the classroom for hybrid learning, K-6 would all be able to start on the same day, given the systems already in place. There would not be a staggered approach like there was at the beginning of the year.

WHAT DOES JANUARY 19th LOOK LIKE?

For elementary students, it would look a lot like the AM/PM hybrid schedule they have been following. Depending on how many families switch their instructional model, changes may be necessary (as you will read below). For middle school students, there would be a shift from the current virtual 109 Online schedule to an AM/PM hybrid schedule that will be unveiled as part of the upcoming survey (read below).

A NEW OPPORTUNITY FOR CHOICE

A survey will be sent to all DPS109 families on December 2nd (due on December 9th) for you to indicate your remote or in-person learning preference for the second semester. Stay tuned for more information. 

WHAT WOULD KEEP US FROM RETURNING ON JANUARY 19?

This is an excellent question. While we are hopeful to have K-6 with us on January 19th, we will continue to consult the metrics set forth by the Lake County Health Department, consult with the Re-Entry Task Force, consult with other area superintendents, and seek advice of medical experts and others to determine if re-launching the hybrid model on January 19th is appropriate. The Board of Education has two regular meetings prior to this date, on Monday, December 14th and on Monday, January 11th, where we can re-evaluate where things stand and if any alterations need to be made to this timeline. The Re-Entry Task Force just met this evening with productive conversation, and will meet at minimum following the December and January board meetings, giving that group several opportunities to provide input prior to January 19th.

EXPANDED TESTING DISCUSSION

While the Board decided not to immediately pursue saliva/surveillance testing last night, we continue to have discussions about the various options available and how they could aid our mitigation efforts. 

MODIFIED SCHOOL CALENDAR (click here for visual version)

Monday 11/23 -- K-5 students not in attendance for K-5 Staff Planning Day; 6-8 Normal Day

Tuesday 11/24 -- Parent/Teacher Conferences; K-8 students not in attendance (details on modified 109 Online schedule emailed to parents)

Wednesday 11/25 -- NO SCHOOL

Thursday 11/26 -- NO SCHOOL

Friday 11/27 -- NO SCHOOL

Monday 11/30 -- Elementary begins 109 Online; middle school remains in current schedule

Wednesday, December 2: Family survey for instructional model post-winter break sent out

Week of Dec 7-11 -- all grades follow 109 Online schedules
Wednesday, December 9: Family survey for instructional model post-winter break is due

Week of Dec 14-18 -- all grades follow 109 Online schedules

Weeks of Dec 21-Jan 1 -- WINTER BREAK: NO SCHOOL

 

Week of Jan 4-8: School resumes following 109 Online schedules

Monday, January 11: Board of Education meeting where Jan 19 re-entry date can be affirmed

Week of Jan 11-15: All grades follow 109 Online schedule

Monday, January 18: NO SCHOOL

Tuesday, January 19: Earliest possible return date for hybrid for grades K-6

Thursday, January 21: Earliest possible return date for hybrid for grades 7-8

BOARD BRIEFS

You can read a more extended summary of the events of last night’s meeting in the Board Briefs, which have just been published.

METRICS UPDATE

Director of Communications Eric Steckling is tracking the latest metrics provided by the Lake County Health Department. You can watch his brief summary here and get the latest numbers at www.dps109.org/reentry. In fact, these new plans described above are all laid out on the “Elementary School” and “Middle School” pages of our re-entry website.

We know this is an exhausting and frustrating process. We recognize the challenges and heartbreak that so many are experiencing each and every day. The news over the past two weeks about vaccines on the horizon has given us hope and for that, we are grateful. We appreciate your patience and support as we work through this global health crisis together. 

Sincerely,

Dr. Jane Westerhold
Ed Rafferty

Co-Interim Superintendents