January 8, 2021

Dear Families,

We sincerely hope the holiday season brought you needed time to rest and safely reconnect with family and loved ones.  It has been a successful first week of remote learning - thank YOU for partnering with us to make it go so smoothly.

Since spring 2020, staff has worked diligently to make significant improvements in our remote learning practices. The planning day on Monday, January 4 was productive and helpful.  Teachers were able to collaborate with colleagues on curriculum alignment as well as lesson planning for the two-week remote period. In addition, targeted technology training was offered to address last-minute needs prior to our remote learning launch.   

Monday, January 11 Schedule
The January 11 remote school day will be from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. for all students (merging AM & PM pods). The afternoon is a teacher school improvement day focused on continued curriculum alignment and planning. Students will not have asynchronous classes in the afternoon. Teachers will provide any necessary information about the day directly to families on Schoology or via email. 

Please note that the elementary special education staff will be participating in K-4  planning meetings all day on January 11th.  As a result, direct special education services will not be provided at the K-4 level on January 11th.  Special education staff will provide students with activities that can be completed independently as appropriate. These activities will vary by grade level and by student special education needs such that activities provided can be completed independently.

COVID-19 Vaccination Update 
The New Trier Township Districts have been actively planning and reaching out to Cook County to begin coordinating the vaccination process for our staff.  We have also been working with our Village partners.  Educators are in the next distribution tier "1b" of the IL Department of Public Health's vaccination plan.  The distribution process and communication for the vaccine plan are led by local health authorities.  This means that other counties will have different timelines and communication plans - some more timely (such as Lake County) given the smaller sizes and localized decisions.

As of this week's guidance from ILDPH, the vaccine will be treated as an added mitigation effort.  This means that we are still being directed to maintain social distancing, mask-wearing, contact tracing and related quarantining  once staff are vaccinated.  As we know, this guidance will likely evolve as more experience with the vaccine is observed. 

Regarding timing of the vaccine's availability, we are cautiously optimistic that we will be able to offer vaccinations to staff prior to spring break.  The state has not yet given a timeline for children, as the vaccine is not yet tested and authorized to give to anyone under the age of 12.  This information is evolving and will change, but we wanted to make sure we keep our community up-to-date

Looking Forward: Planning for Spring, Summer, & Fall 2021
We have certainly benefited from our collective efforts to creatively and effectively implement both the am/pm hybrid in-person model and the remote learning option for our families.  We are also committed to looking ahead and continuously improving our plans.  Every month, we have updated the Board and community with ways in which we explicitly respond to feedback from students, staff, and parents.  Currently, we are focusing on building a roadmap for spring, summer, and fall 2021 - looking for options to safely lengthen the school day.  Details about the vaccine will be especially important to inform our work. We will keep you apprised of our planning and efforts.  We maintain a commitment to prioritize health and safety while targeting ways in which we can maximize in-person learning as much as possible.  

Guidance for Talking with Children
The shocking events at the Capitol on Wednesday afternoon may have sparked questions from your children at home.  Here is an article to help you navigate these questions and conversations in an age-appropriate manner: 

Thank you for reviewing this information and for the sacrifices you continue to make to help support our safety and goal of maximizing in person learning as we move into the second half of our school year. Enjoy your weekend.


Dr. Trisha Kocanda

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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