Dear District 86 Community,
On Friday, April 17, Governor Pritzker announced that schools in Illinois will remain closed for in-person instruction for the duration of the 2019-20 school year. Given the persistent rise in the number of COVID-19 cases and fatalities, this is absolutely the right course of action for keeping people healthy and safe.
While I fully support the governor’s decision, it does not lessen the sadness and disappointment I feel about the way this year will end. My heart is particularly heavy for the members of our senior class, who have worked so hard over the past three years to reach and celebrate the culmination of their high school careers.
What continues to give me hope, however, is the resiliency this community has shown in response to this crisis. As I have said before, it would have been easy to give up or give in to the fear, frustration and uncertainty we have all experienced during the past few weeks. Instead, you have displayed incredible strength and courage in the face of adversity. You have exhibited tremendous resolve and determination in overcoming the obstacles and challenges before us. More importantly, you have stuck together and supported each other throughout this difficult and unprecedented time in our lives.
I realize that many of you have questions now that the closure has been extended until the end of the school year. Below is information I hope will help answer them. I have also noted the items that the schools will update you on in greater detail in the days ahead.
In closing, I want to recognize the phenomenal activities departments from South and Central for everything they have done in recent weeks. Their hard work, creativity and ingenuity, coupled with their amazing energy and enthusiasm, have helped keep people engaged and connected throughout this crisis. I applaud and thank them for their dedicated service and tireless efforts on behalf of our students, staff and families.
Stay safe and be well.
- The governor’s decision to extend the closure means that remote learning will continue through the end of the 2019-20 school year.
- We will follow the plan and schedule we have been using for the past few weeks, which you can access by visiting https://bit.ly/2WVdjqs.
- We will continue to adhere to our plan and the guidance from the state when it comes to grading assignments that are completed during the remote learning period. You can access additional information about the grading process by visiting https://conta.cc/3aYhDcI. You can also access the document we created about how to view grades in Home Access Center by visiting https://bit.ly/3cs0QPK.
- We will not be administering final exams this year. The teachers will communicate what the remaining few weeks of instruction will look like for students, and how final grades will be determined. Any questions about these issues should be shared with them directly.
- Students should continue to communicate with their teachers, counselors, etc. if they are struggling with remote learning, or need additional assistance or support.
Last Day of School
- As has been our tradition, seniors will be dismissed from school earlier than their classmates. The final day of school for the senior class will be Monday, May 11. In keeping with our current schedule, this will be an enrichment/support day for our seniors. On this day, they will have the chance to complete missing assignments or prepare for AP exams.
- The last two days of attendance for students in grades nine through 11 will be May 14 and 15. May 18 and 19 will be enrichment days during which these students, similar to the seniors, will have the opportunity to complete missing work or prepare for AP exams.
- Students, staff and families can access the College Board’s schedule for AP exams by visiting https://bit.ly/34Ky22p.
- We have started devising plans for how to deal with a variety of year-end logistical issues now that we know our buildings will be closed for the remainder of the school year. These include, but are not limited to: picking up any personal items that were left at school in March, selling back books, and addressing any unused funds or negative balances in PushCoin wallet accounts. The schools will share these plans with our students and their families after they are finished/finalized.
Events and Activities
- The board of directors for the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) is scheduled to meet via video conference on Tuesday, April 21. During this meeting, the group will make a final determination about spring sport schedules and state tournaments. The athletic departments from Central and South will notify teams about the IHSA’s decision.
- With the exception of prom and graduation, which we will address in greater detail below, all events and activities scheduled for May have been canceled.
- The feedback our seniors have provided about graduation is clear. If the stay at home order and limit on mass gatherings permits it, they would like to have an in-person ceremony at some point during the summer. With this in mind, we are adopting a two-pronged approach for this important event.
- First, we are going to hold virtual ceremonies for both schools on the dates we selected in May (May 20 at South and May 21 at Central) that will include a livestream video and recognition of every graduate. Doing this will ensure that we are able to honor our seniors in some form or fashion should the stay at home order or limit on mass gatherings remain in effect during the summer months. The building principals will share additional details about these ceremonies with our students and their families.
- Second, we will continue working with our seniors to plan an in-person summer celebration for each building, most likely during the month of July. What we do on these days (e.g., graduation ceremony, picnic, dance, a combination of activities, etc.) will be based upon the feedback we receive from the majority of the students in our senior class. While we always appreciate hearing from parents/guardians and community members on these issues, we want any decisions we make about this special day to be driven as much as possible by our students.
- While the feedback from our seniors about prom is similar to what they said about graduation, the timing and nature of this event presents some unique challenges. It is highly unlikely that the stay at home order or limit on mass gatherings will be lifted next month. Even if they are relaxed, any adjustments will likely be geared toward businesses that can help jump-start and revitalize the state’s economy. In addition, the idea of hosting a virtual prom is not something our seniors have expressed interest in exploring. With this in mind, we will continue working with the members of our senior class to identify potential options for this event. One possible solution we have discussed is incorporating the dance into the celebrations in July. However, we have not finalized anything yet, and would welcome any additional suggestions our seniors may have. Those suggestions should be sent directly to the building principals.
Food Service and Meal Deliveries
- We will continue to provide meals through the end of the school year to D86 families that are dealing with the issue of food insecurity.
- We will maintain our current delivery schedule of two meals on Monday and three meals on Wednesday. With that said, we will contact families directly if we need to alter our delivery times and/or locations based on the status/presence of COVID-19 in our community.
- We want to thank our food service and transportation vendors again for partnering with us on this important initiative.
- There are links on our website (https://d86.hinsdale86.org/Page/1780) people can use to donate to local and national organizations that are offering services and support to those in need.
- Similar to other districts, we will be utilizing a remote learning model for summer school in order to help preserve and protect the health and safety of our students, staff and families.
- As we mentioned in previous updates, we will not be able to offer Math Camp, Tech Camp, drivers education, or SIRS 2 and 3 in conjunction with a remote learning model because there are certain aspects of these camps (e.g., student collaboration and resource utilization) that cannot be replicated virtually. Anyone who signed up for these courses will receive a full refund.
- While we anticipate being able to administer most of our other summer school courses remotely, the final decision about what we offer will be based on registration numbers. If we need to cancel courses due to low enrollment, we will issue full refunds to any families that signed up for them.
- We have extended the registration deadline for summer school until April 30. You can access the link for registration by visiting https://d86.hinsdale86.org/summer. It is critical for people who are taking part in summer school to register by the deadline so we know what courses we will be offering based on student enrollment.
- We will be sending a detailed update about our remote learning plan for summer school by the end of this week. This update will cover topics such as schedule, access to technology, etc. In the meantime, if you have questions about our summer programming, please contact our summer school principals (Sue Grady, 630-570-8091, firstname.lastname@example.org; Sarah Porod, 630-570-8245, email@example.com).
- In the most recent “Updates from 86” email, we shared that the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) has launched a text support line called Call4Calm. Individuals who want to speak with a mental health professional can text the word “TALK” or “HABLAR” (for Spanish speakers) to 552-020. These individuals will receive a call within 24 hours from a mental health professional who is employed by a local community health center. People can also text terms such as “unemployment,” “food” or “shelter” to the same number to receive information about how to access supports and services. Call4Calm is free, and the individuals who use it can remain anonymous.
- We have been engaged in ongoing discussions with our vendors about the prospect/possibility of starting some of the Future Ready Facilities projects early in the event that our buildings were closed for the rest of the school year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The board of education received an update regarding this topic during its meeting on April 9. You can access the information that was shared in conjunction with this update by visiting https://conta.cc/2wuITRb.
- Now that the governor has extended the closure, we will revisit our plans and revise them based on factors such as the status of the permitting process, the availability of materials, and, most importantly, the ability to effectively preserve and protect the health and safety of the workers given the current conditions of the COVID-19 pandemic.