Remote Learning 2020-21
Questions about your student's remote learning? First, contact your child's teacher.
Still questions? Then contact your child's principal.
Health-related questions or concerns? Contact your school nurse.
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Letter from the Superintendent and School Board President Aug. 15, 2020
Dear District 153 Community:
We are deeply saddened and frustrated to have to tell you that, after careful consideration, District 153 will be starting the school year on Monday, August 31st (not August 24th) with all our students learning remotely from home.
A couple of days ago, school districts received updated health and safety guidance pertaining to reopening schools from the Illinois State Board of Education and the Illinois Department of Public Health. These new guidelines are unattainable for us at this time and will necessitate additional planning and preparation. In addition, we are seeing a worrisome increase in COVID-19 cases in nearby communities. Therefore, we are going to adjust our reopening plan to remote learning for all students until such time that we can meet the revised safety measures and ensure it is safe for staff and students to return to our buildings.
We will continue our planning with staff next week and will incorporate two additional teacher planning days during the week of August 24th. The first scheduled day for all students to begin remote learning is now Monday, August 31st. Device distribution scheduled for August 18-20 will be postponed. We will send information about the rescheduled dates soon.
We understand that our revised plan will be a hardship for at least some of our families. We, too, are frustrated by the late release of these new rules, and we are so disappointed that we will be unable to see our students in person on the 24th.
Thank you for your patience as we carefully review this new guidance and track local cases to ensure we can safely have students and staff return as soon as possible.
Please stay tuned for further updates by email and on our website.
HSD153 Board of Education President
Dr. Dale E. Mitchell
CHALLENGES POSED TO DISTRICT 153 BY IDPH (Illinois Department of Public Health) GUIDANCE released on August 13, 2020
New IDPH Guidance: If a student is sent home with suspected COVID-19 symptoms, then all their siblings/household members must be quarantined as well for 14 days.
Challenge to D153: The implications of this new guidance pose real challenges for us in trying to staff our building. Any staff member whose child or family member displays symptoms would be out of work for a minimum of 10 school days.Finding enough substitute teacher coverage will be made much more difficult as a result of this new guidance.
New IDPH Guidance: All students and staff sent home with COVID-19 symptoms should be diagnostically tested and should remain home until they receive their test results.
Challenge to D153: Many of the symptoms for COVID-19 ( cough, runny nose, sore throat, headache, and diarrhea, for example) are symptoms of conditions that our school nurses see on a daily basis and are indicative of other illnesses such as allergies and the common cold. The number of students and staff that would be required to stay home under this new guidance would create real challenges for providing continuity in student learning.
New IDPH Guidance: School nurses performing evaluations of students and staff for COVID-19, as well as custodians cleaning rooms with suspected COVID-19 cases, should wear enhanced PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), including eye protection, gloves, gown and a fit-tested N-95 mask.
Challenge for D153: We have been committed to providing our staff with recommended PPE to ensure their safety. The requirement of a fit-tested N-95 mask is part of the new guidance released just this past week and finding these masks—much less getting them properly fitted—is a huge obstacle that makes it impossible to open our schools at this time.
New IDPH Guidance: “Close contact” is now defined as being within six feet of someone with COVID symptoms for more than 15 total minutes over the course of the day.
Challenge for D153: From the beginning of the outbreak, a person would be quarantined if they had “close contact” with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 or was suspected of having COVID-19. Previously, “close contact” meant being within six feet of someone with COVID symptoms for more than 15 consecutive minutes. The new guidance released last week now creates a huge logistical challenge for schools in monitoring the total number of minutes individuals may have interacted with someone suspected of having COVID-19. For example, at James Hart we would need to add up potential contact minutes not only during a variety of different classrooms but also during passing periods and the bus. This new guidance will dramatically increase the number of students and staff who will be quarantined, making continuity of learning a real challenge.
New IDPH Guidance: Contact tracing will be conducted by the Cook County Department of Public Health (CCDPH), while schools provide assistance by identifying all close contacts with someone who tests positive or is suspected of having COVID-19.
Challenge for D153: This is the first mention that schools will bear any responsibility in contact tracing. The guidance even suggests that schools document assigned seats and take pictures of classrooms to assist the CCDPH. This is something completely new and we have not had an opportunity to discuss with staff how to possibly keep track of all the individuals with whom a student might come into contact. We also have grave concerns about the ability of the CCDPH to contact trace, as they are understaffed and have been very slow to respond this summer when schools have not been in session. That will only get worse once students and staff return to classes.
Recommendations to the Board of Education re: Remote Learning Sept. 14, 2020