Volume 12 Issue 2 | Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020
Throughout this publication, you will see the following color-coded dots accompanying each article. They represent which strategic goal the article addresses.

• Focusing on Learning • Connecting the Community • Securing the Future

In this issue:
  • Superintendent's Greeting
  • Photo Gallery: Transition Days
  • Learn more about Remote Learning
  • District News
  • Board of Education news
  • Calendar

Have feedback regarding Communicate 58? Click here!
Building a plane while flying it: Greetings from Dr. Russell
Dear District 58 Community,

An analogy that is often made about schools during this pandemic is that we’re “building a plane while flying it.” That is certainly true for District 58 as well as all school districts throughout the nation. While there will certainly be bumps in the road, I would like to thank our students, staff and families for a great job with our recent in-person transition days at our schools. Seeing our students in person was a great reminder of what education is all about. District 58 will continue to work toward the goal of in-person instruction and we thank you for your patience as we navigate the pandemic and its impact on schools. While Remote Learning remains a seismic shift in how we deliver education, we have had more time to prepare for the fall, which we know will result in better learning for our students and more support for our staff. Planning for this fall has been a herculean task for teachers, support staff and administrators and, no doubt, parents. We recognize the enormous pressure Remote Learning places on families and we cannot thank you enough for your partnership. As always, feedback from families and staff is essential so we can continue to improve. Surveys will be sent to staff and families on Sept. 23 asking for feedback on Remote Learning. We thank you for your flexibility, grace and understanding as we work on issues that are inherent in delivering instruction digitally to our students. We are all in this together and your collaboration is very much appreciated.

On another note, parent and community involvement have always been a hallmark of our great District. We remain committed to your input and feedback on our goals, curriculum and other facets of our operation. We believe your involvement makes our entire District stronger. We are currently in the process of reviewing dates and times for when our councils and committees will be meeting. Please continue to check this newsletter in the coming weeks for more information about membership on our council and committees.


Dr. Kevin B. Russell
Superintendent of Schools
Transition Days

Students met their teachers, participated in get-to-know you activities with small groups and learned more about Zoom and Remote Learning. The short meetings were key for students to get to know their teachers and get ready for full Remote Learning. Check out more photos in this gallery.
More about Remote Learning
Remote Learning began fully on Sept. 8. While there were some issues with some online technology platforms, as expected, there was a lot of learning, laughs and sharing. Please view these links to learn more about how we’re delivering education digitally and how we’re supporting students:
This plan is in effect until Oct. 2, at which time the District and Board of Education will review options and conditions for returning to school on-site, if possible.

Save the date for Curriculum Night

Each school will host a Curriculum Night in September. The goals of curriculum nights are to provide an opportunity to meet teachers, to understand what learning will look like in classrooms and to allow time for general questions to be answered. The entire experience will take place virtually this year; specific information will be coming from each school in the coming days; for now, please “save the dates” for the following evenings:

September 22 - Grove Children’s Preschool
September 23 - Belle Aire, Henry Puffer, Highland, Lester, Pierce Downer, Whittier and O’Neill
September 24 - El Sierra, Fairmount, Hillcrest, Indian Trail, Kingsley and Herrick
Free Preschool screenings to be held

Downers Grove Grade School District 58 will offer several free preschool and developmental screenings designed to identify young children who might have developmental delays and who would benefit from special education prior to beginning kindergarten. Screenings can also identify children who might be at risk for future academic success due to environmental, cultural or socio-economic factors. The dates are:

  • Monday, Oct. 5, 2020
  • Monday, Nov. 9, 2020
  • Monday, Feb. 8, 2021
  • Monday, March 8, 2021
  • Monday, April 12, 2021

Read more about how to set up an appointment and the process for a screening here. 
Thanks to the community, two playgrounds open
Two playgrounds were installed this summer, thanks to intensive efforts by parents and the school community.

Lester School unveiled its new playground in August with a series of ribbon cuttings designed to keep groups small due to the pandemic. Puffer School opened its playground in August after five years of planning and a hands-on heroic effort by parents to configure and install the structures.

Both school playgrounds are inclusive, meaning that they exceed ADA requirements so that children with various disabilities can use the equipment. In addition, Hillcrest School already has an inclusive playground.

At Lester, there are two play spaces, and include a ramped access to encourage parallel play and access for children with mobility devices and a large symbol-based communication board. Patty Esslinger, President, Lester Community Playground said, “Our goal was to build something bigger than ‘just a playground’. We wanted to create a space where all children and families would be included; a place where kids can learn and show kindness to others.” More than 630 donors, including “Kid Heroes” who raised money through lemonade stands, bake sales and birthday gifts, brought in $425,000 for an inclusive playground.

The committee of parents and staff, called Everybody Plays at Puffer (EPAP), began with a vision and determination to raise funds to replace the 30-year-old playground. The old wooden playground was originally built by volunteers so the committee wanted to replicate that unique community build experience. “It was important to follow in this tradition and have our community install the playground,” said Lauren Singdahlsen who served as co-president of EPAP with Michelle Morgan.

Pictured at top left are the ribbon cuttings at Puffer. The bottom two photos are of the Lester playground ribbon cutting. The bottom photo is from NBC coverage of the playground initiative.
Meal program to continue

Beginning Monday, September 14, District 58 will provide free meals to children who reside within the community. The program is a partnership between District 58, High School District 99 and Woodridge School District 68, called Wood-Grove Feeding Our Future Cooperative. It is funded through the USDA for children, aged 18 and under. Families are welcome to pick up meals at any of the following locations:

Meal Distribution Times
11:15 - 12:00 on Tuesdays and Thursdays

  • Windsor Lakes Apartments, Woodridge - Leasing Office Parking Lot
  • Eagle Creek Apartments, Westmont – Clubhouse Parking Lot
  • Brookside Dr. & Florence Ave, Westmont - Apartment Complex Parking Lot
  • North High School – Forest St. Entrance
  • South High School – Main Entrance

For families that are unable to pick up meals during these times, our delivery service is still available. Please sign up here, and meals will be delivered to your door on Mondays and Thursdays between 10-11:30 am. Please know that deliveries are contact-free and meals will be left outside your door. Additional locations are available throughout the District 99 and District 68 area. If you are already on our delivery routes, you do not need to sign up again.


Just a reminder that the Parent Handbook is available online here. For families that requested hard copies, rather than online copies, they will be mailed out this month. The handbook contains important information about policies and procedures, including new ones that will be in place during the pandemic, including wearing face masks and providing self certification checks.
Essential visitors

Visitors to the schools are being discouraged and only asked to visit for essential purposes. If you do need to visit one of our schools or the District administrative center, you will need to wear a mask and certify that you are free from any symptoms of coronavirus. Please click here to review the symptoms.


Students still need vaccines. This article explains why vaccines are important and how diseases that are preventable with vaccines could make the COVID-19 pandemic worse. In addition, there are a number of vaccines needed for entrance to school.

Tents, signs and more

If you drive by our schools, you will see some tents and storage containers. The District rented or purchased small tents for outdoor spaces during Transition Days for student mask breaks and covering for inclement weather. We also borrowed some tents from the Downers Grove Park District. In addition to Transition Days, the tents will be used when we make plans to hold school back in session on-site. Additionally, you will see storage containers. These are being used to house furniture and other items in order to allow more space in the classrooms and common areas.
Ensuring equity and access
To ensure that Remote Learning is successful for all District 58 families, the District has partnered with Comcast and DuPage County Board to provide internet access. For families who qualify for free and reduced lunch and do not have home internet access, the District has provided hot spots for families. If there is a need, please reach out to your child’s principal. In addition, the District has previously provided devices to all students in grades 1-8. During Transition Days, Sept. 1-4, the District additionally provided students in kindergarten with iPads for their use during Remote Learning. Additionally, 8th graders turned in their Chromebooks and received updated devices during Transition Days.
Thank you!

Thank you!
District 58 thanks the individuals and local organizations who donated school supplies to help local students in need. Contributors include FISH and Community Christian Church. Your help is much appreciated and is making a difference!
COVID and transparency

We are committed to transparency in District 58. We will continue to send information to parents on suspected and positive cases of COVID-19 in their student's respective school. We will also post this information on our website under Finances and Transparency.
Positions Open

Join our team!
We have positions open for custodians and substitute custodians in our schools. To view open positions or to apply, please visit our website.
Board reviews budget

The Board held a workshop meeting Aug. 24 to review the 2020-21 budget. At the meeting, Assistant Superintendent for Business Services Todd Drafall said the pandemic has forced immediate needs to be met and others to be delayed, putting the District in a deficit position. Long-term projections may be further affected by the pandemic, such as decreases in state revenue and negative inflation. He said the District cannot sustain a multi-year deficit. If the crisis continues, the administration and the Board will need to have difficult conversations about long-term restructuring options, such as a referendum, building utilization, boundaries, consolidating administrative centers and programs, selling assets, and restructuring staff. Development of any plan will include a broad community engagement process.
Upcoming Board Meetings

Board of Education: Regular Board Meeting
Monday, September 14 at 7 p.m.
Board of Education: Policy Committee Meeting
Tuesday, September 15 at 7 a.m.
Board of Education: Legislative Committee Meeting
Wednesday, September 23 at 3:45 pm
Board of Education: Special Meeting/Budget Hearing
Monday, September 28 at 7 p.m. 

Regular Board Meeting
Wednesday, October 14 at 7 p.m.
Monday, September 14
Meal program resumes

Monday, October 5
Preschool Screening

Monday, October 12
No School: Columbus Day

Tuesday, November 3
No School - Election Day
Downers Grove Grade School District 58, 1860 63rd St., Downers Grove, IL 60516
Community Relations Office: 630-719-5805 I [email protected] | www.dg58.org