Dear Parents,

I hope this finds you having enjoyed some positive moments with your families this week. It is almost one month since the District unexpectedly closed our schools along with New Trier Township, followed by the state of Illinois. Although our buildings may be closed, teaching and learning continue in new and innovative ways.  I extend my gratitude to our educators and families for your flexibility and patience as we navigated such an unprecedented situation. You have kept our students in the center of our work while juggling many other responsibilities. 

This weekly update continues to provide important information and updates.  Please read carefully as it intends to address areas in which we have received some questions.  

Monday, April 13, 2020; Gratitude - First Grey Day of Learning
On Monday, April 13 we will have our first District-wide Grey Day, with a Social Emotional Learning focus specifically centered on "Gratitude." A guide of activities for this day, organized by grade level bands, will be emailed to you the evening of Sunday, April 12.

As a reminder, Grey Days were added to the calendar to achieve the following:
  • Provide all students with common, theme-based activities designed to be accessible to the whole family. 
  • Add time for students to engage in independent work and to catch up on assignments/projects. 
  • Afford teachers common time to prioritize curricular objectives across the District for consistency and alignment.  
Student Learning Priorities
Teachers are meeting across the District to identify the most important, grade-specific learning goals in math, reading, writing, etc., as well as the units of study that are most conducive to a remote learning environment. Focusing our remote learning on these consistent areas will help us have better control over the quality of the student remote experience and offer greater assurances that students will have a similar level of understanding once they return to school. I can assure you that once we transition back to campus, we will have a quality approach to gauge student understanding and skills, addressing any critical gaps. Our teachers are superb at knowing and responding to the learning profile for each student they serve.  For now, above all else, it is critical our collective priority is on ensuring our students remain physically and mentally healthy.  

Technology - Patience & Help Desk 
As we experience Remote Learning with millions of other students, we will experience technology challenges - many of which are out of our control. If something is not working, your child can take a break and try again later. If it is frustrating, encourage your child to step away from it and do something offline.  Sometimes we have no choice but to slow down.

Please know that the technology staff, both school and district level, are working diligently to respond to your requests.  The best way to get support is to email the help desk help@winnetka36.org .  The average response time for issues that fall into our realm is under three hours. 

Device Loans/Replacements
To request a device, please complete this form by 5:00 p.m. on Monday, April 13, 2020. Devices will be distributed safely next week to those who request them.

Inquiries Regarding School Access
Schools have been receiving questions from parents to access our school buildings for student belongings and materials. Due to the seriousness of the COVID-19 situation and in accordance with the Stay-at-Home Order issued by Governor Pritzker, we are limiting access to our school buildings at this time. We will be able to help facilitate the pick up of student items when the Stay-at-Home Order is lifted. Our first priority is supporting our public officials in taking measures that help protect the collective safety of our community. 

Family Learning/Support Opportunities 
Please visit our Family Resources page to access information to help your family during this time. Our partners at New Trier have provided this helpful list of community mental health resources . District SEL partner, CASEL, is hosting CASEL CARES webinars on Fridays through the end of April. To register or listen to past sessions, visit the CASEL website . The next session, Building Resilience to 
Support Ourselves, Others, + Our Students,  will be held on April 10, 2020 from 12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m. 

This recent New York Times article on supporting anxious children might also be a helpful resource to you as well. 

Finally, our District remains grateful for our healthcare workers and first responders on the front lines.  If you or one of your family members is one of these people, please know the entire school community is behind you and thinking of you often.  Finally, as many are celebrating holidays virtually with family and friends this weekend, I hope you find time to rest and enjoy one another. Be well and stay healthy.

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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