August 5, 2020
Dear D219 Students and Families,
Last night, the D219 Board of Education approved the administration’s recommendation that the district will deliver instruction for the first semester through remote learning. This difficult decision was made because of several factors: the continuing spread of COVID-19; the numerous complexities and changing guidance on bringing students and staff back into the buildings safely; and the hesitancy that many of our families have to send their students back to school.
Many of you completed our Return to School survey, and the responses we received contained the entire range of possible opinions, from those who state they will not send their child back to school in person until there is a guaranteed vaccine, to those who say they want their child back in school right away. But even many of the parents and guardians who answered along the lines of “back right away” then want to know how we will guarantee that their child will not be affected by some other student who doesn’t follow all the safety precautions.
We have an obligation to keep your child safe -- as well as our teachers and staff members. We believe that the amended resolution approved by our Board last night gives us the flexibility to make remote learning as robust as it can be, given the built-in limitations, while also giving us more time to determine how to safely bring students back for in-person learning.
Last night our Board members expressed their strong beliefs that we must prioritize how to educate and meet the needs of those students who may find remote learning most challenging, including students with special needs, and students who can benefit from in-person social and emotional support. We are also concerned about students who are working to support their families during these uncertain economic times. If conditions improve and we gain confidence about how to begin safely bringing students back into the schools during the first semester, we will do so in a careful and deliberate manner
There are still so many unanswered questions, and we share your frustration during these uncertain days of the pandemic. Now that we have clarity about using remote learning for the first semester, we will be able to finalize many more details about what your students’ days will be like during the first half of the year.
Here is the general schedule we will be using for the first semester. It includes the Illinois State Board of Education’s required 5 clock hours per day through a combination of instruction and school work.
Teachers will meet with classes during the assigned periods on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. This is called “synchronous learning,” which means that students are expected to be in attendance on a given day at a given time for participation in that class. Teachers will be taking attendance during these days.
Teachers also will designate two class periods of office hours per week and communicate this to students. Office hours may be scheduled during early bird, study hall, or prep periods. Office hours are periods of the day in which teachers make themselves available to clarify assignments, answer curriculum-related questions, and provide social-emotional support to students.
Wednesdays will be used for “asynchronous learning,” which means that students will work independently and/or collaboratively with classmates to complete academic work and projects that will be assigned by all of their teachers. Wednesday is a school day and student attendance day. Students will be expected to submit their attendance via an Infinite Campus reminder and to complete activities and assignments as they would the rest of the week.
As of today, students can access their individual school schedules via Student Portal, and parents can see their students’ schedules in Parent Portal.
Some Other Important Points:
Study Hall is a time for students to do independent work and group work. During their study hall, students may access Student Services supports; engage in 1-to1 tutoring; and take advantage of teacher office hours.
The school day ends at 2:50 p.m., but students may still have homework to do after that time.
Tutors will be available in both The Lit Center and Point for students to access throughout the week, including during the Study Hall period.
Canvas: D219 will now be using Canvas, a learning management system (LMS) that will serve as one centralized point for students to access their classrooms, participate in extracurricular activities and access other school services. We are confident that Canvas will allow us to greatly enhance the remote learning experience.
All of our teachers, directors and staff members are working hard to vastly improve students’ experiences with remote learning, with special attention focused on meeting students’ social-emotional learning needs. Comparisons to last spring's learning are natural, but that was a situation that we reacted to with no preparation for those of us who had not embarked on e-learning in our districts. We know better now, and we will do better.
We will be sending you much more information with details about this coming school year. This will include expectations for students about grading and attendance, and more details about our expectations for students on Wednesdays. By the end of next week we will have an updated “Keep Learning” link on our websites, which will include a list of frequently asked questions and our responses.
Thank you for your patience and understanding during these challenging times. Please feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions, concerns, or suggestions. Although we understand that this is not the way we envisioned the school year to start, we pledge to do our best for our students. Thank you for your ongoing support of our schools.
Dr. Steven Isoye
Superintendent of Schools
Dr. Karen Ritter
Niles West Principal
Dr. James Edwards
Niles North Principal