Feb 19: Task Force Recommendations and Presentation

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Feb 19: Task Force Recommendations and Presentation

February 19, 2021

A Message From Your Superintendent
 
The District 57 Task Force gave a presentation to the School Board last night, sharing its extensive research, parent and staff survey results, and recommendations for learning models this spring and next fall. Before I get into the specifics, I want to stress that I’m aware there will be a wide range of responses to the recommendations. There are many different ideas and passionate feelings about what our path forward should be. This is an emotional time for everyone as we approach one year of dealing with the pandemic. And that’s to be expected since the well-being of the children of this community is of utmost importance to parents, Board members, and D57 educators, and administrators alike.
 
 
Here is a summary of the four recommendations the Task Force presented:
 
  • Recommendation 1: The Task Force recommends that the Board of Education continue the current hybrid and full-remote learning models that are currently in place for the remainder of the 2020-21 school year unless significant changes occur in the COVID-19 landscape such as recommendations from the CDC, Illinois Department of Public Health and Cook County Department of Public Health supporting an in-person model with less than six feet of social distancing.
  • Recommendation 2: The Task Force recommends that the Board of Education implement an adaptive pause after Spring Break, which would mitigate the risks associated with travel. This would mean hybrid students participate in remote learning for two weeks until in-person learning resumes on Monday, April 12.
  • Recommendation 3: The Task Force recommends that the Board of Education support strategic planning for Fall 2021 learning models that feature full, in-person learning for students.
  • Recommendation 4: The Task Force recommends that the Board of Education allow the Task Force to continue its work to provide ongoing reports to the Board regarding updated research, information, or planning that will support a transition to more in-person learning opportunities for students. 
 
These are only recommendations, and the School Board will make the final decision about our spring learning plan, as well as the plan for next fall. You can find much more detail about how the Task Force came to these recommendations, including survey results and the various options considered in the Board presentation and report on our website’s COVID-19 page
 
Board members asked many questions of the Task Force and administration last night and had a lengthy debate over the options. They discussed the possibility of following the Task Force recommendation of continuing the current hybrid/full-remote models in the spring but making some improvements. There was also a discussion about transitioning to a full-day model with less than six feet of social distance. Board members asked administration to present a plan for that model at the next meeting on March 4, when they will further review the options and decide about the spring learning plan.
The Task Force comprises people representing many backgrounds and perspectives – parents, District staff, myself, and Dr. Gorr. Everyone took the role very seriously, meeting several times as a large group and working in teams, as well as doing independent work. The members diligently analyzed research and survey results, had honest and sometimes emotional discussions, and worked their way toward the thoughtful development of detailed recommendations. They worked right up to the last minute, even analyzing the recently released CDC guidance.
 
I would like to recognize those who took on this critical responsibility: parents Kimberly Arvanites, Zoi Giannakopoulos, Chris Hoff, Kasia McGrew, Jill Morgan, and Mike Murtagh; District nurse Kim Finnerty; MPESPA president/instructional assistant/parent Jenny McGoon; and teacher Diane Rush. Thanks to Chris, Mike, and Jill for representing the task force last night and giving such a clear and detailed presentation to the Board.
 
Thanks also to all of the community members who have emailed the administrators and the Board and those who came to the meeting last night to make comments. I assure you that we hear the many perspectives and experiences shared, and all of the input we receive is taken into account as we work to improve learning during the pandemic and meet the needs of our students as best as we possibly can.
 
Dr. Elaine Aumiller
Superintendent of Schools
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