Aug. 5: New school year prep

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Aug. 5: New school year prep

August 5th Message

August 5th, 2020

Dear District 57 Families,

Over the past two weeks, I have heard from many of you who have expressed gratitude that the District is moving forward with a remote learning model that prioritizes student and staff safety. I have also heard from some who have concerns about their children not being able to attend school in person for the time being. While I am confident that remote learning is the best and most sustainable option right now – and one that so many other school districts are now pursuing – I do understand that it presents challenges for many families, and I want you to know that we are doing our best to address some of the key concerns that people have.

We have been working hard to plan and prepare for this unconventional start to the school year. I’m thankful to the many administrators and staff who have been involved in this meticulous process. We’re aware that parents are anxious to learn more about our plans, so I’m pleased to let you know that the school principals will begin to communicate detailed building-specific information starting tomorrow. In the meantime, I have some important new information and updates to share:

• New Start Date: The first day of school for students in grades 1 to 8 has been moved to Monday, Aug. 24 (from the 20th). Kindergarteners will have their virtual Garden Walks on Monday, Aug. 24, and begin school on Tuesday, Aug. 25. Circle of Friends will have Garden Walks on Tuesday, Aug. 25 and begin school on Wednesday, Aug. 26. This change will allow staff to have two additional planning and professional development days and will also give them the opportunity to personally distribute Chromebooks and other materials to their students on Thursday, Aug. 20, or Friday, Aug. 21. Students will have a designated time to drive up (like the pickup process in the spring) and can say a quick hello to their teacher or another staff member. We think this brief face time (with masks) will help get the year off to a good start. The principals’ email tomorrow will have more details about this process and other back-to-school information. The new start date does not affect the rest of the school calendar, because the state has granted additional professional development days to help prepare for remote learning.

• Class Assignments and Communication from Teachers: Class assignments and schedules will be communicated via email on Wednesday, Aug. 12. Teachers will reach out to introduce themselves to their students after the 12th.
• Principal Welcome Back Sessions: The principals will hold virtual welcome back sessions for families on Thursday, Aug. 13: Westbrook 5-6 p.m., Fairview and Lions Park 6:15-7:15 p.m., and Lincoln 7:30-8:30 p.m. These sessions will also be recorded and posted on the school websites for families who are unable to watch live. The principals will each give a presentation highlighting what the remote learning school day will look like, and they will answer pre-submitted questions. The principals will share more information about these sessions.

• Kids’ Corner: The District is implementing a half-day Kids’ Corner program to provide some assistance to parents who are in urgent need of childcare. There will be a limited number of spots available at Westbrook, Fairview and Lions Park, and they will be offered on a first-come, first-served basis. Registration will begin at 8 a.m. on Thursday, Aug. 13, using the Community Pass system. The sessions will be offered 7:30-11:30 a.m. and 1-5 p.m., with parents selecting which days they want and either a morning or afternoon option on those days. There will be no food served or eaten during the program, but a grab-and-go snack may be provided to take home after the a.m. session. We will send additional information about the program and registration early next week.

• Special Education Plan and Survey: Last week, the District's Special Education Plan for the start of the school year, along with an FAQ document, were posted on the website and emailed to parents/guardians of children who receive special education services. To help the District in planning for the return to school, parents are asked to complete a survey for each child who receives special education services, by this Friday, Aug. 7. 

• Technology Survey: We are also asking all District families to complete a survey about their technology needs. This will help us determine how we can provide any necessary remote learning support. Please participate by Monday, Aug. 10, if you have not already done so.

I encourage you to check the COVID-19 page on our website for all District-wide updates. Also watch for emails from your principals and check the school websites. In addition, please follow District 57 on Facebook and Twitter, if you’re active on social media. We will have a lot to communicate over the next couple of weeks as we get ready for a great start to the 2020-2021 school year!

Dr. Elaine Aumiller
Superintendent of Schools
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