Dear District 86 Community, 

On Thursday, July 9, our Parent-Teacher Advisory Committee (PTAC), which is composed of students, staff and parents/guardians, met to discuss several topics, including:

  • Potential changes to the master school calendar to accommodate for Election Day being designated a state holiday in 2020. 
  • An update on the creation of administrative procedures that will correspond with board policies 6:40 (Curriculum Development) and 6:210 (Instructional Materials). 
  • An update on the work the Math Pathways Committee is doing to align the district’s math courses and curriculum. 
  • An update on the work the Revitalization-Recovery-Restore Committee has been doing to get ready for the start of the 2020-21 school year. 

While all of the topics the committee discussed are important, this update will focus specifically on the instructional models the Revitalization-Recovery-Restore Committee has been designing the past couple of months, and the steps we will be taking over the next few weeks to finalize our plans for the fall. That information is detailed below and in the presentation that was given to PTAC ( https://bit.ly/38LbKQ6 – slides 29-51). You can also view the video of the PTAC meeting by visiting https://vimeo.com/436952281 (the conversation about the return to school begins at the 41:50 mark and ends at the 1:43:45 mark).  

I want to thank the members of the Revitalization-Recovery-Restore Committee for their tireless efforts, and the members of PTAC for the vital and valuable feedback they provided. I also want to thank the families that have shared their thoughts and perspectives on our return to school. Please know that we, like many of you, are interested in and strongly committed to resuming in-person instruction. However, we must balance that interest and commitment with the need to keep all of our students, staff and families healthy and safe. We firmly believe the models we have designed and plans we are developing will help us achieve these goals. 

We will share our next update about the start of the 2020-21 school year following the board of education meeting on July 23. In the meantime, I want to thank you for your time and attention to this message, and for your continued support of our schools and the students we serve. 

Stay safe and be well. 

Tammy Prentiss
Superintendent

Background information about and common elements of the potential instructional models
As we shared in previous updates, we have been exploring three primary models for delivering instruction to our students – in-person, hybrid and remote. Below is some background information about the models, as well as details about the elements that are common across the hybrid and remote options. 

  • There are a number of factors we have used to assess and evaluate potential instructional models. These factors include, but are not limited to:
  1. Our guiding principles for the creation and utilization of a non-traditional learning environment.
  2. Health and safety considerations and criteria (e.g., self-verification of health, use of masks/face coverings, social distancing, etc.) that are based on the guidelines set forth by local and state health organizations and government agencies.
  3. Best practices in instruction. 
  4. The desired outcomes when designing an instructional model – e.g., ability to seamlessly transition between in-person and remote, opportunities for teacher collaboration, increased student engagement, maximizing remediation opportunities and student-teacher interaction, etc. 
  5. Constraints that need to considered when choosing an instructional model – e.g., capacity restrictions set by the state (limit of 50 people in any size space), ISBE’s requirement that an instructional day be at least five hours, lack of access to a midday bus route, access to co-curriculars (sports and activities), etc.  

  • The return to in-person instruction on a full-time basis is our ultimate goal. However, our ability to achieve this goal will be dictated, in large part, by local and state health guidelines. These guidelines, especially the ones related to social distancing and capacity restrictions, do not currently allow for the safe return to a 100% in-person model to start the school year. 

  • All of our hybrid and remote models feature one day (Wednesday) that would be fully remote. This would be similar to the Teacher Planning and Student Enrichment/Support Day we offered on a weekly basis during the spring. The main difference in the new/updated models is that students would attend their classes remotely in the morning on this day. 

  • All of our models account for ISBE’s decision to return grading practices to local control – i.e., the “no harm” rule is no longer in effect.  

  • The models we are proposing are for first semester only. We will monitor local and state health guidelines throughout the semester, and use the most up-to-date information to develop our plans for the second half of the school year. We will also use that information to adjust or shift between models during first semester if necessary. 

  • While this update is focused on the instructional models that we are considering for first semester, please be assured that we are also working on the various logistical and operational issues (e.g., transportation, food service, personal protection equipment, etc.) that will be critical for ensuring the well-being of our students, staff and families. In addition, our athletic directors and coaches are working with each other, their peers from other schools/districts and the Illinois High School Association on the plans for returning to play. We will provide more information about these topics following our update to the board of education on July 23. 

Potential instructional models for first semester of the 2020-21 school year
At this time, there are four models that we believe will enable us to enjoy a positive and productive start to the year, while also keeping our students, staff and families healthy and safe. Below is additional information about these models. 

  1. Our students would be divided into two groups – A and B. Students that we determine would benefit from additional support and interventions may be included in both groups. 
  2. Each class would meet in-person twice a week and remotely two or three times per week. 
  3. Our schools would follow the normal bell schedule (8 a.m. to 3 p.m.), which would include early bird (7 a.m. to 7:50 a.m.), periods 1-10 and a 25-minute lunch.
  4. On Wednesday, classes would be held remotely from 8 a.m. to 11:25 a.m., with early bird taking place from 7:30 a.m. to 7:55 a.m. The afternoon would be focused on strategic planning and teacher collaboration.
  5. Lunch space is limited to a total of 50 people, so each building would need to use multiple locations to provide this service. One of the main factors that would impact our ability to use this model is the state’s current stance that schools apply the 50-person limit to every space in a building regardless of its size. This means that we would be unable to partition larger spaces such as the cafeteria, field house, etc. to accommodate multiple groups of 50, even if we are practicing social distancing, requiring masks/face coverings, etc. 

  1. Our students would be divided into two groups – A and B. Students that we determine would benefit from additional support and interventions may be included in both groups. 
  2. Classes would be 38 minutes long, with five-minute passing periods between them. 
  3. Each class would meet in-person twice a week and remotely two or three times per week. 
  4. On Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, classes would be held from 8 a.m. to 12:56 p.m., with early bird taking place from 7:15 a.m. to 7:53 a.m. and intervention/re-teaching taking place from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m.
  5. On Wednesday, classes would be held remotely from 8 a.m. to 11:25 a.m., with early bird taking place from 7:30 a.m. to 7:55 a.m. The afternoon would be focused on opportunities for teacher collaboration, as well as intervention and remediation activities.
  6. There is an alternative option to the schedule that would feature the two groups of students attending class on opposite ends of the week. For example, students in Group A would attend class in person on Monday and Tuesday, while students in Group B would attend class in person on Thursday and Friday. 

  1. Our students would be divided into two groups – A and B. Students that we determine would benefit from additional support and interventions may be included in both groups. 
  2. Classes would be 70 minutes long, with five-minute passing periods between them. Having longer class periods would enable the schools to accommodate for labs. 
  3. Each class would meet in-person once a week and remotely two or three times per week. The trade-off of having longer class periods is that students would only see their teachers in-person one day per week. 
  4. Group A would have morning classes on Monday from 8 a.m. to 11:40 a.m., with early bird/intervention taking place from 11:45 a.m. to 12:55 p.m. and intervention/re-teaching taking place from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. The group's afternoon classes would be on Thursday from 8 a.m. to 12:55 p.m., with intervention/re-teaching taking place from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m.
  5. Group B would have morning classes on Tuesday from 8 a.m. to 11:40 a.m., with early bird/intervention taking place from 11:45 a.m. to 12:55 p.m. and intervention/re-teaching taking place from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. The group's afternoon classes would be on Friday from 8 a.m. to 12:55 p.m., with intervention/re-teaching taking place from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m.
  6. On Wednesday, classes would be held remotely from 8 a.m. to 11:25 a.m., with early bird taking place from 7:30 a.m. to 7:55 a.m. The afternoon would be focused on opportunities for teacher collaboration, as well as intervention and remediation activities.

  1. Classes would meet three days per week.
  2. Classes would be 75 minutes two days per week and 25 minutes one day per week. The length of the classes is based on several factors, including feedback we received that indicated a desire for increased instructional time, the need for additional transition time in a remote environment, and the belief that offering deliberate and focused blocks of time for instruction is best for learning. 
  3. Per guidance from ISBE, every class meeting would feature daily contact with the teacher via apps such as Zoom or Google Meet. 
  4. On Monday and Thursday, periods 1 through 3 would be held from 8 a.m. to 1:15 p.m., with early bird taking place from 1:45 p.m. to 3 p.m. On Tuesday and Friday, periods 4/5/6, 6/7/8, 9 and 10 would be held from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  5. On Wednesday, classes would be held from 8 a.m. to 11:25 a.m., with early bird taking place from 7:30 a.m. to 7:55 a.m. The afternoon would be focused on opportunities for teacher collaboration, as well as intervention and remediation activities.

Based on the needs of our students, the current health guidelines issued by the county and state, and the feedback we received from PTAC, we are leaning toward using a hybrid model, which would feature a combination of in-person and remote learning. With that said, we recognize that our plans must remain flexible in order to accommodate any changes that occur to the health conditions in our community, county and/or state.

Next steps
Below are the steps we will be taking over the next few weeks to finalize our plans for the start of the school year and prepare for the return of our students and staff next month. 

  • We will review and discuss the feedback we received from PTAC, make any necessary revisions or adjustments to our models and/or plans, and then present our recommended plans to the board of education on July 23.

  • We will continue to review and assess all of the information and guidance that health organizations and government agencies are issuing about COVID-19 and its impact on our return to school.

  • We will continue talking to and meeting with representatives from the DuPage County Health Department, DuPage Regional Office of Education, and DuPage high schools and feeder schools on a regular basis. We will also share our plans with them and adjust them, if necessary, to best meet the collective needs of students, staff and families. 

  • We will use our various communication platforms (email, websites, social media, etc.) to share reminders about or updates to our plans in the weeks leading up to the first day of school.

We also intend to administer surveys to our families and staff either the week of July 20 or the week of July 27. We will use the surveys to get feedback on our plans for first semester, which may include giving people the chance to rank the instructional models/options we are considering. We will also collect information about the potential impact of our plans. For example, we will use them to help determine if there are any documented health conditions that would prevent, prohibit or preclude a student or staff member from being able to take part in on-site instruction.