July 17, 2020

Dear Parents, Staff, and Community Members,

Planning for this upcoming school year has given the District the most complex, real-life design challenge ever before us.  Through the collective talents and creativity of staff, administrators, parents, board members, students, community members, and health specialists, we are navigating our way through this and making decisions based on science and our expertise in child development.  Our commitment to providing safe, on-site learning is unwavering. Safe and consistent health practices, both in and out of school, will afford us the best chances to return and stay on campus for in-person learning this school year.

There is a survey link at the end of this email. We ask that District families complete this survey by July 22.

Please know, we are required to adhere to the reopening school guidelines jointly provided by the  Illinois School Board of Education and the Illinois Department of Public Health . According to Governor Pritzker's  Restore Illinois Plan , the state is currently in Phase 4, which will allow the District resume in-person instruction in the fall as of today. 

A Message from the Superintendent Regarding Fall 2020-2021 Planning
A Message from the Superintendent Regarding Fall 2020-2021 Planning


Health/Safety guidelines informed the following:
  • Require face coverings for students and staff at all times when indoors 
  • Place desks so students are social distanced as much as possible
  • Face desks forward in one direction
  • Limit opportunities for groups to interact (students remain in dedicated classroom and do not mix with other classes)
  • Assign seats for contact tracing
  • Refrain from sharing any classroom materials
  • Check COVID-19 symptoms daily per parent certification AND engage in daily  temperature checks before entering the school building
  • Limit hallway traffic
  • Suspend the use of lockers/cubbies
  • Prohibit more than 50 gathering in one space
  • Increase cleaning and disinfection
  • Limit visitors (including parents) on site
  • Open windows/doors for air-quality; no fans
  • Place plexiglass shields on student desks
Common Educational Elements of in-person plans:
  • Students assigned to one classroom and outdoor space
  • Students remain in single cohort throughout the entire day (exception may be special education)
  • Related arts/specials/electives offered virtually
  • Core Instruction (math, literacy, social studies, science) offered in-person
  • Social-emotional learning and executive functioning embedded in in-person learning
  • Homework provided (developmentally appropriate)
At the July 15, 2020, Board meeting, the following three learning models were presented for the 2020-2021 school year.  ALL three models may be used during the school year depending on the relevant context and health metrics . Our decision regarding which model with which to begin our school year will be made and shared with the community no later than Friday, August 7, 2020.  No single factor will determine our fall approach.  Rather, we are blending staff, parent, operational and health-related data to make an informed plan that will allow us to increase the likelihood of remaining on campus for safe, in-person learning as much as possible.

MODEL 1: In-Person Instruction for All Students
  • School hours would be staggered from 8:15/8:30 a.m. through 2:15/2:30 p.m.
  • Core instruction blocks would be scheduled with movement breaks for students
  • A typical class size will be followed with social distancing practiced as much as possible (4-5')
  • Lunch would be on-site in classrooms; food service will not be available so students will need to bring their own lunch
  • Before and after school care would be offered via our new provider, Right at School
MODEL 2: Hybrid Instruction: 60% In-Person & 40% Remote 
  • School hours
    • Students would attend either from 8:30 - 11:30 am or 12:30 - 3:30 pm on site (divided alphabetically so siblings would be able to share the same schedule)
    • Complementary remote learning would take place at home for 2-hours in the morning (for p.m. students) or afternoon (for a.m. students)
  • Class size is reduced to 50% in order to practice 6' of social distancing and offer more personalized instruction
  • No lunch on-site
  • Before school care would be offered for morning students ; After school care would be offered to afternoon students via our new provider, Right at School  
MODEL 3: Remote Learning for All Students

If we move into Phase 1, 2 or 3 of the Restore IL plan OR if there are classes/schools with 14-day quarantine closures, we will move into the District's Remote Learning plans.  We are also offering a remote-only option for families to select (see survey below) .  A comprehensive remote learning plan with improved structure, organization, and instructional approach will be implemented.  ALL students will have a District-issued iPad to use for remote learning.
In order to meet the academic, social, and emotional needs of our students, the following highlighted components are embedded in the robust remote learning experience:  
  • a single Learning Management System (Schoology) for students K-8
  • daily meetings with classes to ensure learning activities are clear and social-emotional well-being is monitored
  • increased synchronous learning activities
  • an organized, consistent schedule that mirrors the school day
  • embedded peer-to-peer work and collaboration 
  • communication and individualized feedback to students
  • coordinated parent education and support for various systems/resources embedded in remote learning activities 
  • live help desk for virtual technical support
It asks families to inform us if they are interested in opting for a remote learning option for Trimester One (August 26 - November 20).  This is an interest survey.  Final commitments for remote learning will be made the week after plans are launched. We need this preliminary information now to plan for educational programming and staffing. The survey should take approximately five minutes to complete. Your answers will help us more accurately plan for our school year as well as identify and address frequently asked questions.

We will look forward to reconnecting the first week in August to share an extensive 2020-2021 Planning guide which will include information such as:
  • health and safety protocol
  • teaching and learning plans
  • technology updates
  • before and after school care

We certainly appreciate your patience, insight, and resolve as we have navigated this challenging situation over the past four months. Our shared collaboration is a reminder of the strength of the Winnetka community. Together we will support a successful 2020-2021 school year and remain hopeful in light of the complex circumstances at hand. 


Dr. Trisha Kocanda

*In order to help familiarize your family with regular mask-wearing, these tips may prove helpful: 
  • Let children pick out masks from fabric that features a character, book, or theme they enjoy
  • Set consistent expectations for when and where masks should be worn 
  • Model consistent mask-wearing behavior to your children
  • Offer praise for consistent mask-wearing 
  • Start having your children wear masks daily and gradually lengthen the duration of time in preparation for the school year
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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