Volume 24, No. 9 | Thursday March 18, 2021
News from the March 16, 2021 meeting
Planning for Next School Year Begins
With Updated Guidelines
Planning for next school year is underway after the Illinois State Board of Education and the Illinois Department of Public Health released revised guidance for schools earlier this month.
The state guidance reinforces essential mitigation strategies currently in place, including social distancing; universal use of face masks and PPE; contact tracing and isolation of confirmed/suspected cases; increased cleaning and disinfecting; and frequent hand-washing/disinfecting.
IDPH has made a significant adjustment to its social distancing guidelines, however. Social distance for in-person learning is now defined as 3 to 6 feet for students and fully vaccinated staff. Maintaining 6 feet remains the safest distance, but schools can operate at no less than 3 feet in order to provide in-person learning. 
Capacity limits for non-academic activities such as lunch are determined by the ability to space students appropriately instead of a capacity limit per room. School buses are still limited to no more than 50 people.
Superintendent Dr. Larry Hewitt said that principals are evaluating classroom space for the next school year in anticipation of more families choosing in-person learning.  
“The principals are looking at spaces to see how a typical class size may work within our classrooms. We want as many kids as possible in-person with desks as far apart as we can,” Dr. Hewitt said. “It should be a more normal return to school but not 100% normal” for next year.
Schools must continue to offer students a remote learning option if they or a household member have significant health-related issues. As plans for the next school year take shape, communication will be shared with parents. Parents will also be surveyed regarding any health concerns that might require remote learning for 2021-22.

Educational Model Unchanged for Current School Year 
Dr. Hewitt noted that the educational model for this year is not changing for the following reasons: 
  1. When parents made their second-semester choice of either five days per week in-person or five days per week remote learning, the district stated it would adhere to 6-foot physical distancing as a way to mitigate the risk of spread of COVID-19.
  2. If social distancing is reduced to less than 6 feet and a student tests positive for COVID-19, then all of the students sitting near that child would have to quarantine a minimum of 10 days.
  3. Any student who would switch from remote to in-person now would have new teachers, which is not educationally sound with only eight weeks of school remaining. It takes several weeks for a teacher to get to know new students, including their learning styles and abilities.
In brief
Family Donation Targets NBJH Program
The District received a gift of $1,000 from a parent with a request that it be used for the gifted and talented program at Northbrook Junior High School. 
Federal Funds Unknown
The district is expected to receive $165,000 in federal aid from the federal Coronavirus Relief Fund, which was approved in 2020. The money is distributed through the Illinois State Board of Education. Chief School Business Official Jessica Donato said she has not yet received confirmation of additional funding that is expected from the federal stimulus plan approved this month.
Budget Planning Underway
The goal over the next few years will be to build a budget that replenishes the fund balance as guided by Board policy parameters (50-75% of the operating budget). Next year’s budget is being constructed to provide exceptional educational experiences for our students, while also addressing the problem of the decreasing fund balance.
Roofing Projects, Security Upgrades Planned for Summer
Northbrook Junior High and Greenbriar School will receive roofing repairs/replacement over the summer. Architects are preparing specifications, with contracts expected to be awarded at the April board meeting. Proposals are also being gathered to update the security systems at all four schools this summer.
Mobile App Downloads Nearing 700
Nearly 700 users have downloaded the district’s new mobile app. The mobile app provides one access point for calendars, directories, notifications, news and important website site links. The mobile app, created by the district’s new mass notification system, Blackboard, is available for both Apple and Android phones. The calendars and news feeds can be customized to school(s) of interest. There are quick links to frequently used websites as well as one-touch access to school and teacher directories. Additional customization is available for parents wishing to access student lunch balances and school/district notifications by requesting a login and password through Communications Director Terry Ryan.
5Essentials Survey Closes April 2
The Illinois 5Essentials Survey closes April 2. Staff, parents, and students in grades 4-8 are asked to participate in the survey of their school. All schools have surpassed the response benchmarks for all audience categories. The district and school principals will receive reports and an overview of results will be shared with the public through the state school report card next October. 
Silver Linings - One Year Later
When Northfield Township superintendents closed schools on March 13, 2020, little did anyone anticipate the life changes that would follow. Many of us faced fear and grief, but we also came together as a community in many ways demonstrating hope and resilience. Communications Director Terry Ryan compiled messages created by the staff of silver linings they experienced over the past year. The messages were posted on social media and shared with parents in the weekly e-news. Click to view
Want to Know More?
Livestream/Archive Video
The Board of Education meetings are live-streamed on the District 28's YouTube Channel. The live streams are also archived for later viewing.

Next Meeting is on April 27
The Board of Education meetings will be held virtually until further notice in order to limit visitors within the school buildings and maintain cleaning protocols. The public is invited to listen to the audio stream of the meeting on the district's YouTube Channel. The next regular meeting of the Board of Education is scheduled for 7 p.m. on April 27.