September 15th, 2020
A Message from Your Superintendent
Thank you for everything you are doing to make remote learning as successful as possible for your children. Today I want to give you a brief update on our efforts to get as many of them as possible back in the school buildings in early November, if the required metrics are where they need to be. We will outline our plans in detail at the School Board meeting at 7 p.m. next Thursday, Sept. 24. The community will have an opportunity to watch the meeting via Zoom, and we’ll share the presentation and video the next morning. In the meantime, here’s an overview:
- On Nov. 9, Westbrook, Fairview and Lions Park students could either continue with remote learning OR start taking part in a hybrid learning model: The hybrid learning model will involve two cohorts (A and B) each attending a half day in school and half day at home. While at home, students would view recorded lessons, work on assignments and take part in specials. Preschool and kindergarten students will likely have a slightly different hybrid schedule, as they are already in a half-day program. We will send out a survey to Westbrook, Fairview and Lions Park families on Sept. 25, and there will be a one-week window to select either a hybrid or remote learning model. In order to fulfill families’ placement requests, students will be sectioned into new groups, and it is likely that many, if not most, students will be assigned a new teacher. It is difficult to speculate the exact details of the changes that will occur, as everything will depend on the number of families who select the in-person hybrid or the full remote learning model for their students.
- Lincoln will continue with remote learning for the time being: We recognize that remote learning presents the greatest challenge for our youngest students, as well as their teachers and their families. Therefore, it is our goal to get preschool through fifth graders back in the buildings first, and we will then focus our efforts on developing a hybrid schedule for the middle school. More updates will be provided when they are available.
- We have been collaborating with the MPEA and MPESPA Union Leadership Teams, and today we have started meeting with elementary staff members to preview the plans: We want to make sure the staff has plenty of time to prepare for hybrid learning and be fully informed of new protocol related to safety. This is one reason we have pushed the target date back from our original goal date of Oct. 19 – staff will have more opportunity for planning and training, including during the already-scheduled District Institute Day on Nov. 2. The Nov. 9 start date for an in-person hybrid model also coincides with the end of the first trimester for elementary students.
- The metrics we are using to determine our plans are from the Illinois and Cook County Department of Public Health and include guidance from the Harvard Global Health Institute: These metrics, which are similar to the ones being used by High School District 214 and the surrounding elementary districts, include indicators such as COVID weekly incidences per 100,000 people, COVID positivity rates and COVID-like illnesses admission to the emergency room. We are looking at the numbers for our ZIP code, as well as parts of suburban Cook County. In addition, we must consider our own internal indicators such as staffing, PPE, disinfectant supplies that are necessary for any in-person operations and COVID clusters within our schools. We will present detailed information about the metrics at the Board meeting next week.
I thank everyone who took the survey about the first two weeks of school. We were pleased to see that 82% of families replied as either feeling satisfied or very satisfied with the first weeks. Many of you indicated that you would prefer less screen time, and we are incorporating that feedback as we continue to refine remote learning.
I want you to know that we do hear the concerns that have been communicated to us, and we’re working hard to develop a plan that works for those who want to return to school, as well as for those who wish to continue with remote learning for now. I hope this message answers some of the questions you’ve had. We will have many more details to share next week.
Dr. Elaine Aumiller
Superintendent of Schools