Wilmette Public Schools Fall Opening Update

Wilmette Public Schools Fall Opening Update
Posted on 07/24/2020
Wilmette Public Schools District 39

Wilmette Public Schools District 39
Mikaelian Education Center
615 Locust Road
Wilmette, IL 60091

Dear D39 Families,


I hope you are continuing to enjoy your summer and finding new and fun ways to relax, rejuvenate and reconnect.

I am writing today with an update on our planning for fall 2020 reopening of schools within the Wilmette Public Schools. While today's communication provides an update regarding our planning efforts, we are happy to report that District 39 remains on track with our commitment to share a detailed review of our school reopening plans and options with families next Friday, July 31.

First, I would like to thank the 100+ teachers, staff, administrators, students, parents and health experts who have served on our hard-working planning teams throughout the summer to help guide and inform our planning. This has been a truly incredible and inspiring experience, and we are deeply grateful for their hard work and contributions. I would also like to thank the families of more than 2,740 students who responded to last week’s survey. Your insight and input throughout our planning process has been invaluable.

Our Fall 2020 Reopening Planning Committees and Advisory Task Force have continued to make good progress in refining our plans for school reopening scenarios. Our teams have developed scenarios that will allow us to maximize in-person student learning and connections as often as possible while abiding by state health and safety guidelines. We will also offer a choice to families to enroll in a fully remote learning program. Within the in-person hybrid models, we are committed to maximizing meaningful, in-person instruction to the greatest extent possible while exercising great caution and care in planning for physical distancing and other health recommendations of the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE). Remote learning programming, whether as part of the fully remote program or as part of the hybrid model, will incorporate several improvements and enhancements from last school year as well as recommendations from our planning teams to ensure all instructional services are targeted, connected and robust.

Our school reopening plans will ensure the ongoing opportunity to pivot between models based upon health guidance and needs without interruption to high quality teaching and learning throughout. Given the changing nature of state and federal health guidance for schools amid the COVID-19 pandemic, our continuum of instructional models, which include in-person, hybrid and remote learning, are specifically designed in connected ways to ensure robust teaching and learning throughout the school year. This carefully connected continuum will allow us to ensure meaningful, ongoing and uninterrupted instructional services to our students regardless of the necessary model given health data and guidance at any given time.

On Monday during their Committee Meeting, our District 39 Board of Education received an update on our planning efforts as well as a preview of the continuum of instructional models that have been developed for school reopening. The Board affirmed our planning commitments and goal, which include:

  • Health and Safety of Students and Staff is a Priority.
  • Flexible and Adaptable Instructional Models Must Be Developed to Provide Consistency and the Ability to Respond without Interruption.
  • Manageable, Meaningful, and Sustainable Teaching and Learning are Critical to Our Ongoing Success.
  • Targeted and Connected Learning is Our Goal.
  • Consistency facilitates improved engagement and alignment amongst all stakeholders in teaching and learning.

As we have planned for and worked through the considerations and possible scenarios for reopening schools, our planning goal of building in-person student learning and connections as often as possible while abiding by state health and safety guidelines has remained our guiding focus. The health and well-being of students and staff must remain a priority while we work to ensure targeted and connected learning for all. We recognize that with the ever-changing health situation and ongoing adjustments to guidance from health and education experts, our scenarios must allow us to pivot between instructional models without interruption to robust teaching and learning as well as the critical student-teacher connections that inspire ongoing engagement and success. Attention to the transition needs of students while building upon relationships and consistency paired with an unwavering commitment to adhere to the health and safety guidance of IDPH/ISBE have informed our work. These guidelines include the following:

  • Require physical distancing (6 feet) as much as possible
  • Prohibit more than 50 individuals from gathering in one space (e.g. gym, cafeteria)
  • Face coverings must be worn within schools
  • Instructional day must be at least 5 hours (in-person and/or remote)
  • Schools must conduct symptom screenings and temperature checks (or self-certification) before entering school buildings
  • Increase school-wide cleaning and disinfection
  • Plan to support transition needs back and new well-being needs
  • Within Phase 4, in-person, hybrid/blended, and/or remote instruction is permissible, if following health guidelines
  • In-person learning opportunities are strongly encouraged, especially for younger students and students with special needs
  • Districts must be prepared to shift to between models and to remote instruction, as needed or as guidance changes
  • Five instructional days may be used for planning purposes

We are eager to share our plans and the scenarios for reopening schools with families next week along with the health, safety and school operation protocol that have been developed to support the health and safety of students and staff. A detailed review of these plans will be shared with families on Friday, July 31. Please look for an email on Friday along with an opportunity for Q&A that will follow.

These are unusual times, and yet there is beauty all around us and it can occasionally be found within some of the most unexpected places. These challenging times have provided an opportunity to connect and collaborate in new and important ways, and the beauty found within these connections have been inspiring. Thank you to all for your ongoing support. I hope the weekend ahead provides you with new opportunities to celebrate the beauty that surrounds you.

Be well, and continue to spread joy and kindness wherever your path may take you.

Your partner in education,

Dr. Cremascoli
Kari Cremascoli, Ph.D,
Wilmette Public Schools District 39

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