“People do not care how much you know until they know how much you care.”– John C. Maxwell
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Saturday, May 16, 2020
Dear Member of the North Shore School District 112 Staff, Parents/Guardians, and Community,
While our #1 focus is on finishing this year as strongly as we can, we have our eyes and plans on returning to school in the fall. With this note, I’m sharing our thoughts, questions that are being posed, and advance planning to update you. My intention is to help you start to plan and adhere to our priority to communicate with you often.
In anticipation of next year’s reopening, we are pouring over content and planning and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), other state plans and professional association guidelines for returning to school, like that from the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching (NIET). Yesterday, the state superintendent of schools released considerations for closing this school year. The guidance on return to school is forthcoming.
My plan is to provide a formal update to you all on June 30, 2020, at the regular Board of Education meeting. Meantime, I’m sharing some highlights and resources that I would like you to be aware of and to consider as we prepare for “back to school” in a few short months. I will follow up with additional communications prior to the June 30, 2020, Board meeting.
Our Back to School planning is focused on keeping student learning at the forefront – safe, healthy, and intentional focus on learning. We are also conscious of the fact that there could be further interruptions experienced during the 2020-21 school year due to a resurgence of COVID-19. We are also aware of a subset of our community who may simply refuse to send their children to school for a variety of reasons. Generally, we are anticipating three prongs as we return to school:
In-Person schooling – with health safeguards
We are waiting for the Illinois Department of Public Health/Illinois State Board of Education return to schooling guidance
Hybrid Approach – some in-person schooling and some remote learning 2.0
Remote Learning – taking what worked in the crisis, what we learned in the crisis, and input from the surveys to refine and improve e-Learning
The quality of learning for students during this crisis has not been equal to in-person learning. We know this. We are working to make sure that we use the reflective observation and input of our teachers, administrators, and community to improve our in-person schooling, our health focus, and our Remote/E-learning 2.0 to focus on the best and most impactful learning and teaching. I am deeply grateful to our teachers, support staff, administrators, and parents for the herculean efforts demonstrated during this public health crisis that caused a complete and total change to education.
Some Questions we are working through in order to prepare for the school year 2020-2021:
As information continues to evolve, is it reasonable for our schools to be safely open as normal? What are health and safety protocols that need to be instituted?
What modifications should be made to safely open our schools, and is it possible for our schools to make those modifications? We don’t want to make false promises. We are eager to open but safety and health are #1 priorities and considerations.
What can be different about our attendance policies to ensure that students and staff can act in the best interest of their health and the health of others? We are mindful of the wide breadth of this pandemic and its continued impact on members of our staff, students, families, and the greater community.
How should we modify our “return to work/school” protocols?
What do we do with students or staff that are not safe in returning to school?
How do we determine if learning loss has occurred for some of our students?
How will custodial protocols change to meet current best practice?
If the State does not allow us to begin the school year in person, what does returning to school actually look like?
Again, we know that the past few months have been challenging. Our students, staff, and families continue to be in our thoughts as we collectively experience this pandemic. We are stronger when we work together and appreciate the support, care, and attention that our staff and you have provided our students during this difficult time.
With respect, regards, and appreciation,
Michael Lubelfeld Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools