October 9, 2020
Dear D219 Students and Parents/Guardians,
We hope this note finds you and your family doing well. We are now well into two months of the new school year with students engaging in class via remote learning. We would like to thank you for the patience and understanding you have shown as we work to provide the best possible instruction for students while keeping them, and our teachers and staff members, safe. We recognize how challenging it has been for everyone, but please know that our entire staff has been working hard to improve remote learning and to be responsive to our students’ needs.
We are actively planning to bring students back into our schools for some form of in-person instruction in January, as originally planned, assuming the metrics surrounding COVID-19 in our community allow us to do so safely.
When we eventually bring students back for some form of in-person learning, since not all of our students will be physically present at the same time, we will also be using remote learning as an instructional tool. For example, there may be some students physically present and some students attending that same class via Zoom.
Your feedback is important to us and we are looking for your input on remote learning this semester to help us continue to improve teaching and learning in this format. To that end, we will send you a survey next week to complete. This survey is designed by Hanover Research, a partner that is helping our district develop its strategic plan. It is easy to complete and is meant to offer us some baseline data, so that we can use the same survey going forward to monitor how well we are using remote instructional strategies.
To plan for the return to school, the administration is working to design and develop a draft with specific plans for January. A larger committee will then look at a wide range of considerations to determine all aspects of a safe return and provide feedback.
Some of our surrounding north suburban high school districts have begun to bring small groups of students back in person for classes. We are closely monitoring how these re-entry plans go, and how the districts will respond in the event of positive COVID-19 cases in the schools. We continue to work closely with the Skokie Health Department and the Illinois Department of Public Health for guidance and best practices for in-person learning.
We know how important it is for students to have some personal interaction and socialization with their peers, so we have opened up our outdoor campuses to select sports and activities. These include such IHSA fall sports programs as golf, swimming, tennis and cross country, and contact days for practice and conditioning for off-season sports. These are considered to be low-risk sports in terms of contracting COVID-19. We are also allowing some practices for performing arts groups as well as events and gatherings for student clubs and activities. In all cases we enforce strict health and safety precautions, including holding meetings outside only, using proper distancing and the use of masks. We are monitoring these activities closely and ask parents to immediately notify the district if any participating student tests positive for COVID-19.
In the event that a student reports positive or has been ordered into quarantine, our district will follow the guidelines from the Illinois Department of Public Health and work closely with the Skokie Health Department. These resources will help us conduct contact tracing and next steps.
Questions have come up about the district’s preparation for increasing the number of people in the building as we prepare for and eventually have staff and students return. Over the summer, the district has acquired personal protective equipment (PPE) to keep our staff safe. This includes masks, hand sanitizing stations, electrostatic cleaners, disinfectant wipes, face shields, protective plexiglass sheets, disposable gloves, sneeze guards, non-contact infrared thermometers, and more. As we prepare for January we are putting these items in place.
We will continue to keep you and all our families posted about details leading up to January as they become finalized. We understand how important it is that we give you as much advance notice as we can to make you aware of the details of our planned return to school for possible in-person instruction.
Our staff members and Student Services team members are continuing to prioritize the social and emotional needs of all of our students. These are difficult times for everyone. If you are a student and need some additional support, we urge you to reach out to your counselor or a teacher or staff member who you trust. If you are a parent or guardian who believes that your child could benefit from additional support, please encourage your child to reach out.
While we can not control the course of this pandemic, we can control how we take care of ourselves and of each other. In that spirit, please take time to get away from your screens and to enjoy the company of your family and your loved ones.
Thank you for your continued understanding during this challenging time. We wish you a safe and happy rest of the first semester.
Dr. Steven Isoye
Superintendent of Schools
Dr. James Edwards
Niles North Principal
Dr. Karen Ritter
Niles West Principal