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March 17, 2020 update regarding COVID-19 and e-Learning

COVID-19 Website
We have created a dedicated webpage for communication and resources during this school closure. Please go to www.niles219.org/keeplearning for the most up-to-date information. We added a banner to the main web pages for District, Niles West and Niles North. For updates on COVID-19 and e-Learning, please click on the banner.

Periodic updates from the D219 Administration
The Superintendent and principals will continue to provide periodic updates to our school community on issues that impact our schools.

e-Learning Clarification regarding “Act of God” days
On Friday, March 13, 2020, Governor J.B. Pritzker issued an Executive Order for all schools to close March 17 to 30 with a plan to reopen on March 31. These Act of God days do not need to be made up at the end of the school year.

Even with the Executive Order, Illinois State Superintendent Carmen Ayala strongly encourages school districts to provide instruction during Act of God Days through whatever means possible. School districts have full autonomy to provide students with continuous learning. We are fortunate in District 219 to be able to provide students with continuous learning during this time. Working collaboratively with our Union, we successfully kicked off our first day of e-Learning today. Our teachers planned diligently to offer a continuity of education for our students.

Please note, e-Learning will not take place during spring break (March 23 to 27). E-Learning will resume on March 30.

Attendance & Grading
While we are practicing attendance taking methods for students during Act of God Days, non-attendance will not be used to penalize students. We understand that remote learning is new for many students and connectivity and access issues may arise that we will need to resolve. This week is important to us as a means of checking in with students and beginning to get used to our new remote learning.

During Act of God Days, the same concept applies to grading. Grading will be in the form of feedback for students. Grades will not be used to negatively impact students. Our teachers will continue to focus on learning and growth through constructive responses to student work.

Wifi Hotspots
Prior to the closure of school we surveyed our students to determine the needs of students concerning wifi access. If your student needs a hot spot, please fill this survey. We have the devices on order and we will contact you as soon as we receive the hotspots.

Dual Credit & AP Classes
We are working closely with our university partners and the College Board to ensure that students continue to have access to dual credit and Advanced Placement opportunities. All of our partners are ready to support our e-Learning efforts and will maintain open lines of communication with our district.

Open Meetings Act and Board meetings
On Monday, March 16, 2020, Governor Pritzker issued an executive order that suspended (1) the requirement that Board members “must be physically present” and (2) the limitations of remote participation of a meeting. The order further encouraged postponing Board meetings whenever possible. If a meeting is necessary, the Board should consider remote participation such as video, audio or telephonic meetings.

As such, we will begin to explore virtual Board meetings that allow for public participation. Posting requirements have not changed. We will still post the agenda for each meeting per usual.

Translation of Parent Letters
Our correspondence to families is translated by our family liaisons. Our liaisons then send the translated letter directly to our families. If you need translation assistance and are not already on the list of people who receive this service, please use the following link to identify the family liaison who can help you in your language. https://sites.google.com/d219.org/d219-family-liaisons/

Food Service
We sent a letter to families of students who qualify for free and reduced-price lunch regarding lunch availability at our schools. If you did not receive the letter and would like the information, please refer to this link.

Sanitization of Schools
We are doing a deep cleaning of our schools at the onset of the closure. Custodial services will continue throughout the entire closure. A refresh deep cleaning will take place prior to the opening of schools.

State and National Testing
We will continue to monitor and communicate updates from the state and College Board regarding upcoming assessments scheduled for the months of April and May. As of this date, the NAEP and ISA exams for juniors, and the National May SAT exam have been cancelled.

We are also monitoring any IHSA communications related to the status of the spring sports season and will update any important developments.

Please take care and stay safe!

Dr. Steven Isoye
Superintendent of Schools