Nov. 6, 2020

Dear Parents,

Thank you for your continued partnership this school year.  Together, we are striving to support our collective health and prioritize in-person instruction for our students.  The weather has been incredible for the first week in November, and our classes are taking advantage of time learning outside.  Our students continue to engage in meaningful in-person learning - hitting their stride at the end of Trimester I.  I would like to genuinely thank our parents who truly support children and teachers in so many ways this year.  We are grateful for you!

This message is meant to update our parent community on a few topics:

Response to COVID-19 Metrics
While the community transmission and positivity rates are primarily showing substantial transmission, the District remains in a position where we are able to manage staff and student cases and maximize in-person instruction. This is due in large part to the PPE and safety measures that we have had in place since August.  At this point, there is no evidence that our schools have been the source of any positive cases. Thus far, all cases of COVID-19 have originated outside of the school day and buildings.  We continue to follow the Cook County Department of Public Health directives and swiftly manage cases and quarantines.  We remain cautiously optimistic that our safety measures are working as effectively as possible, and also want to allow our adaptive hybrid model to work allowing for pod, cohort, grade level or school-level targeted responses.  

The metrics team met this morning, we do not anticipate proactively shifting to a full remote schedule unless we have evidence of in-school transmission or operational challenges (i.e. on-site staffing shortage) that require a pivot. The District's health/safety protocols are extremely important and regimented, offering a relatively safe place as compared to other public environments.

New Trier High School Testing
Next week, New Trier High School is initiating a voluntary COVID-19 screening test for students returning to campus.  As this screening test is not a COVID-19 diagnostic test, it does not require younger D36 siblings to quarantine while awaiting results.  Thank you to the parents who reached out to inquire. 

Continuous Improvement of Hybrid Model
You may have noticed a few areas in which we are focusing our attention to improve the student experience. We grow more adept at managing this unique situation daily, using feedback from students, staff, and parents to drive our continuous improvement.  

The October Survey from October 5-12 included both quantitative and open-ended comments.  With over 2500 combined respondents from students, staff, and parents, we needed additional time to code the open-ended comments.  Here is a link to a summary of themes by participant group.

This feedback, combined with the quantitative data, pointed to a focus on improving the asynchronous, remote portion of the day.  Here are some ways in which we have worked to address your feedback:

  • Elementary grade level teams are working to ensure there is consistency in the expectations in grade levels throughout the District during their weekly meetings.
  • The Department of Innovation, Teaching and Learning has refined feedback from District educators on best practices for providing independent work and shared that information and expectations with all teachers. 
  • During a two-week period (October 26-November 6), all teachers indicated a specific length of time that should be spent on remote work when they are providing assignments. If you find that your child is consistently working less or more than the recommended minutes, please reach out to your team of teachers.
  • The Carleton Washburne staff and administration are evaluating options for revising the hybrid schedule and piloting opportunities for teachers to offer additional virtual academic support to students during and after the school day.
We plan to send out another District-wide survey in December to collect data and track progress.

Thank you for taking the time to review the information above. Finally, please remember that there is NO SCHOOL Friday, November 13 due to a Teacher Institute Day. 

Have a wonderful weekend!


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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