Return to School 2020-21 and COVID-19 Updates Learn More
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June 12, 2020
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Superintendent message re: planning for 2020-21 school year

Dear Glenbard students, families and staff,

The Glenbard District 87 administration is meeting regularly to consider safe options for the 2020-21 school year.  We are studying multiple areas of work to decide how to best serve our students in the safest and most effective instructional settings.  The safety of our community is at the forefront of the work, while we balance the educational and social emotional needs of our students.

Background
As a result of the pandemic caused by COVID-19, schools were closed via an executive order signed by Gov. JB Pritzker in March 2020.  On April 17, Gov. Pritzker suspended in-person learning for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year to slow the spread of COVID-19. During this time, all teaching and learning was conducted in a remote environment via e-learning.  Glenbard’s multi-year work around 1:1 devices for every student and an emphasis on deep learning allowed the schools to make this change swiftly.  All staff worked to connect with each student during this time.  Struggles to serve students were identified and addressed in the most effective manner possible, including:

  • Grading: The Illinois State Board of Education mandated that student grades could not decrease during the remote learning experience. Glenbard staff repeatedly messaged the importance of engagement and the possibility of grades increasing during this time.
  • Engagement: Students and families who struggled to engage were contacted and offered supports that included information on resources for families in crisis, locations for food distribution, hotspots for wifi access and the encouragement necessary to maintain school work and a daily schedule whenever possible.
  • Peer-to-Peer Interaction: Student feedback showed a desire for opportunities to connect with each other. In response, the district established weekly Google Meets for all courses to provide time with other students in class, time to interact with their teacher and a space for class discussions about assignments or academic work.
  • Communication: Glenbard News shared vital information for families, including tips and advice on how to cope with the pandemic; how to talk with students; and resources to access for accurate information; community resources; and supportive articles about self-care.
  • Feedback: Glenbard conducted two student surveys and a staff survey throughout the remote learning period and adjusted some of practices based on survey feedback.
  • Grab and Go meals: Glenbard has provided free meals at several locations throughout the district. Free grab and go breakfasts and lunches will continue to be provided this month.
  • Financial Support: Glenbard has encouraged donations to the Partnership for Educational Progress (PEP) foundation’s student support fund. Glenbard’s student services department uses the donations to provide grocery gift cards and other supports to families in need.
  • Celebrations and Support: Glenbard conducted virtual graduation ceremonies, awards celebrations and a variety of personal outreach to students to celebrate students’ achievements and remind them administrators, teachers and staff support them and are proud of them.

Guidance
Prior to COVID-19 being identified as a pandemic by the World Health Organization, Glenbard began reporting data on student and staff illness to DuPage County; provided students, staff and families with information about how to stay safe and healthy; and provides links to sources so everyone may stay up to date with accurate information about COVID-19.

Since remote learning began, Glenbard has worked with local governing agencies and adhered to the guidance of multiple local, state and national agencies. This includes:

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which provides information about COVID-19, precautions and guidance for schools and businesses to follow.
  • Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), which provides guidance to businesses, schools and other publicly accessible facilities specific to COVID-19 in Illinois.
  • Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), which provides guidance to public and private schools throughout Illinois.
  • Restore Illinois, which provides guidance from the Illinois government regarding rules linked to stages or status of COVID-19 in Illinois.
  • Illinois High School Association (IHSA), which provides guidance regarding athletics and some non-athletic activities.

The guidance has changed in the last few months and is anticipated to change further throughout the summer.  As the COVID-19 situation evolves, these agencies change their respective guidance.  It is important to note that while each agency makes global statements, including “may” or “could,” they all go on to include very specific requirements for schools and general health precautions.  As a public entity, it is critical that we follow these guidelines and adhere to liability and legal requirements.

Unknowns
Each of the organizations listed and monitored for guidance has explicit expectations, recommended practices  and timelines for resuming in-person school and school events. While every community member is aware of the requirements to wear a mask that covers the nose and mouth and fits tightly around the face, as well as social distancing by remaining 6 feet apart from other people, these recommendations and others are challenging to integrate into large high school settings.  While recommendations may change over the next few weeks or months, Glenbard is working hard to be ready for in-person instruction when it is allowed. We are planning for significant safety modifications, including:

  • Having each student wear appropriate face coverings at all times.
  • Cleaning frequently touched surfaces to decrease the spread of COVID-19.
  • Keeping student gatherings, including activities and athletics, at appropriate size to maintain social distancing.
  • We are also required to keep normal school items and facilities such as desks, work areas, walking paths and bathroom use, separated by 6 feet and clean throughout the day.
  • Acquiring the supplies and protective equipment (face masks, cleaning products, sanitizers, etc) necessary to maintain a safe environment for the students and staff.
  • Producing and distributing meals to students in classrooms, while wearing masks, maintaining distancing and allowing for hand washing and cleaning.
  • Adjusting classes (decreased size, various locations, etc.) while keeping the large number of courses we have available to students and with the same number of teachers employed by the district.
  • Adjusting schedules and continuing to honor student selection for course level and type of course for the 2020-21 school year.
  • Designing an educational day that supports each student’s individual needs academically and socially on a regular basis.
  • Assessing the rules as they apply to transportation and planning how to safely transport students to school while maintaining social distancing. This may result in the number of students per vehicle decreasing sharply, while our planned and budgeted routes, buses and drivers are limited.
  • Constantly monitoring the changing guidance of key agencies listed above as the incidents of COVID-19 may fluctuate in Illinois.
  • Staying within budget as we plan to educate each student. 

Ongoing work
Our administrative teams are working to understand the requirements and recommendations as well as design the safest educational experience for each student.  New and changing guidance is anticipated in the coming weeks. This guidance may impact our planning each time it changes. Our entire team is focused on designing and sharing a plan that is best for students and meets the requirements listed. Students, staff, families and community will be updated on the 2020-21 school year plan as soon as it is completed.  Stay safe and healthy.

David F. Larson, Ed.D.
Superintendent