December 4, 2020

Dear Families and Staff,

We hope you were able to enjoy your Thanksgiving holiday and easily return to your routines this week.  This week has brought some anticipated challenges our way with increased reports of COVID-19 cases and student/staff absences.  The timing aligns with what was likely, considering we are a week out from Thanksgiving.  We wanted to assure you that there remains no evidence of in-school transmission at this time.  We are also fortunate that most cases have no quarantine impact on schools, although some pods have needed to pivot to remote. We appreciate the agility of the staff and families who have shifted to remote learning.   More than ever, it is critically important that we remain vigilant and strictly adhere to health and safety protocols.  Remaining safely in-person these final two weeks of the calendar year will take a collective and concerted effort.  

Hybrid Remote Schedule Following Winter Break
At the November 24 School Board meeting, it was decided that the District would implement a two-week "return to campus" transition in order to safely welcome students and staff. This decision was made with staff and families in mind who plan to see loved ones and possibly travel over the winter break. This two-week remote learning window affords an isolation period from January 4 - January 18, 2021, for those who require it. The best way to return to campus safely after break is to have families and staff limit exposure to others and return home no later than January 3 in an effort to prevent the return of the virus on our campuses.  

The post-winter break schedule is as follows:

  • Monday, January 4 - Remote Planning Day (non-student attendance day)
  • Tuesday, January 5 - Friday, January 8 - K-8 Remote Learning
  • Monday, January 11 - AM Remote Learning (AM/PM pods will merge), PM Teacher In-Service (non-student attendance)
  • Tuesday, January 12 - Friday, January 15 - Remote Learning
  • Monday, January 18 - NO SCHOOL (MLK Day)
  • Tuesday, January 19 - Return to Hybrid In-Person model 

A comprehensive communication regarding the January 2021 Remote Learning schedule and logistics is coming on Tuesday, December 8 from the Department of Innovation, Teaching & Learning.

Please instruct your student to gather personal belongings needed for winter break BEFORE break begins on December 18. Buildings will be closed during the break and we will be unable to grant access; there will be no exceptions provided as deep cleaning will occur during this time.

Update on January 2021 Covid-Testing Pilot
At the November 24 School Board meeting, the majority of the School Board was in favor of piloting the District to pilot the Safeguard Covid-19 screening test currently being used by LaGrange School District 102 and New Trier High School.  The goal was to pilot the test with a small group of students and staff prior to returning to campus on January 19.  Safeguard alerted us that they do not have the capacity to manage a pilot in mid-January due to demands from full-time clients.  At upcoming meetings, the Board will discuss other dates or testing options for conducting a pilot. The pilot would allow the District to practice the operational systems and communication needs to be better prepared should a large-scale screening plan become an option in the future.

COVID-19 Communication
As we experience a rise in COVID-19 cases in the District, we continue to notify both close contacts and our entire school community when the Cook County Department of Public Health confirms there is a positive or probable case. Please continue to check your email, messages, and texts to ensure you are up-to-date on these messages. 

December Parent Survey 
Next week, the District intends to disseminate a parent, staff, and student survey to monitor progress since October. Strong participation will allow us to have the most useful data, so please take 10-minutes to complete.

Please bear in mind that this letter describes our plans at this time. All plans may be modified in response to changing conditions. Thank you for being flexible, time and time again this year. We appreciate your continued vigilance. I hope you have a restful weekend.

Sincerely,

Dr. Trisha Kocanda
Superintendent 


The Winnetka Public Schools community empowers every student to flourish in 
an innovative, experiential environment. We support and challenge all learners 
to actively engage in continual growth and achievement to make 
a meaningful difference in the world.  

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