October 23, 2020
Dear District 23 Community,
What an exciting and awesome week we’ve had welcoming back our students in Grades 1, 2, 4, and 6 through our hybrid model. It has been such a pleasure to return to a sense of normalcy and stability. Everyone did a great job with wearing masks and following the new entry procedures. Next week, we look forward to welcoming students in Grades 3, 5, 7, and 8.
Growing concerns exist, however, regarding the increasing case rates and spread within the community and I want to share some additional thoughts on where I believe we may be heading as a district. Cases and transmission in schools have been very low and in our District, we have had no such instances. One can assume that this is because of the strict mitigation strategies including mask wearing, hand washing, social distancing and enhanced cleaning protocols. While we can agree that these measures contribute to a safer community, we can not control what happens outside of our schools.
On a daily basis, we monitor the case count per 100,000 individuals in the zip codes serving District 23. The case count in both the rolling 14 and 7 day periods have largely remained higher than the cases per 100,000 cited in the Back to School Blueprint as a point for implementing our hybrid in-person schedule. I want to reiterate that while that metric is an important one in making a determination as to whether to continue with our in-person hybrid schedule or return to fully remote learning, it is not the only metric we review. In addition to other external points of data such as testing positivity rate, we also very closely review data from within our own schools. We have launched our own publicly viewable COVID-19 Data Dashboard and update it on a daily basis.
The district has not yet made the decision to return to fully remote learning at this time, but I want all parents to be aware that we are moving closer to a point where we may need to pause our in-person learning until COVID-19 infection rates stabilize.
In addition to our own internal monitoring of metrics, this decision may be necessary if a recommendation or order to return to remote learning was issued by the Governor, Illinois State Board of Education, or state or county public health officials.
Any decision to return to distance learning will be made with as much advance notice as possible. Due to the fluid and unpredictable nature of the COVID-19 virus, however, ample advance notice may not always be possible. Please continue to consider your family’s contingency plan should a closure occur at the classroom, school, or District level. We will actively communicate with parents and guardians via regular school and district level communication systems like Constant Contact as well as via social media and the district website as soon as necessary.
We continue to be in a critical time in the fight against COVID-19. It is extremely important that as a community we stay vigilant and take all steps necessary to avoid exposure and spread of this virus so that we may keep our schools open and in-person learning going.
Please continue to wear your masks and help your child to wear theirs, enforce social distancing, avoid attending or allowing your child to attend social gatherings or other events where adequate precautions may not be followed, practice good hand washing consistently, and stay home when you or your children are not feeling well.
Again, we thank you for your continued support and vigilance.
Superintendent of Schools
Prospect Heights School District #23