November 13, 2020

Dear Families,

We have made a community-wide commitment this year to hold in-person learning in the midst of pandemic, and we have done so successfully for over 11-weeks.  Families and staff have made sacrifices to their daily routines, travel plans, activities, etc. to ensure the hybrid-learning and remote learning programs effectively run.  The current rise of COVID-19 in our state and region is drawing serious attention. At the same time, we continue with on-site learning inclusive of incredible mitigation efforts, resulting in no evidence of school transmission at this time. The second COVID-19 wave is upon us and we must elevate our collective vigilance and commitment - recognizing that decisions we make as individuals or families may affect many more.  With other districts making decisions to pre-emptively shift to remote learning in the coming weeks, we are doing our best to allow our comprehensive protocols and procedures to maintain safe, on-site learning.  This cannot be achieved without a collective commitment.

This is a longer letter, so your patience and careful read are appreciated.  There is a great deal of information to share to keep our families well-informed.

Travel & Quarantine
In its most recent update on November 12, the CCDPH recommends avoiding all non-essential travel and quarantining for 14 days upon returning to suburban Cook County.  This is a significant shift that illuminates the current status of high COVID-19 community transmission.  With the new guidance, essentially all Illinois counties and states outside of Illinois Suburban Cook are recommended for quarantine.  The District realizes the challenges associated with monitoring in-state travel. Therefore, the District is updating travel quarantine to include any travel outside of Illinois for more than 24 hours. 

Given the anticipated increase in potential quarantine related to travel, along with our increase in exposure-related student quarantines, the District's grade 1-6 remote classrooms no longer have capacity for temporary enrollment due to travel-based quarantine. If your child travels and needs to quarantine, he/she will access their typical remote Related Arts instruction and regular asynchronous work provided by the classroom teacher. Parents will be responsible for supporting student learning while away on travel and any related quarantine.  Teachers have limited ability to assist students prior to and returning from vacations given the demands of the current context.  

Winter Break Plan
Winter Break should bring a welcome reprieve to all in our school community who are deserving of rest. We know both families and staff plan to travel over break and/or celebrate with loved ones.  We want our families and staff to benefit from the break and feel confident that they can return to campus safely for learning. Therefore, the District is committing a return-to-campus transition plan.  Students in all grades will return from break to a week of remote learning, January 4 - 8, 2021. We may extend remote learning into the following week, January 11 - 15, 2021; however, we are evaluating COVID-19 testing options, including the surveillance testing used at New Trier High School, to allow us to safely return to campus the week of January 11.  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.  

Importance of Adhering to Health/Safety Protocols
First, we recognize that the vast majority of families are following our processes.  Thank you.  Unfortunately, there are some who have not followed protocols and have risked potential exposure to others when it could have been prevented.  The District reserves the right to move students from in-person learning to the remote environment for the duration of the Trimester should a family break safety protocols. Circumstances warranting action include sending a child to school while symptomatic, while awaiting test results, or while awaiting a family member's test result, etc.  These are avoidable risks that compromise the District's ability to maintain in-person learning. Thank you for understanding our collective responsibility to maintain a safe environment for in-person learning under increasingly challenged circumstances.

We remain grateful for our ability to support our in-person and remote learners. We know that as a community we are all making personal sacrifices in order to continue to keep the virus at bay to the best of our ability. Thank you for your continued partnership in this endeavor. 


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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