April 4, 2020

Dear Parents,

As we head into the weekend, I am sharing an update on several important items. Thank you for your incredible efforts to support the unexpected shift to remote learning over the past several weeks. As the realities of the Stay-at-Home order impact us all in different ways, it remains a priority of our schools to address the social-emotional health and well-being of our students and staff.  Our inclusion of virtual check-ins this week is one example of this effort. We have been doing this with both children and adults in order to stay connected. We have also been urging a balanced approach to daily routines - balancing e-learning experiences, time outside, play, family meals, and personal downtime. Your continued flexibility, patience, and collaboration is appreciated. We know that many of you are also balancing your family and professional needs while managing remote learning at home, along with our teachers.  

Before reading further, it is most important that we emphasize how the unusual nature of this situation brings about a number of challenges.  That having been said, we know we will provide what our students need, which includes the recognition that there is no more important time than now to balance health, social-emotional wellness, learning, and play in each day.  Technology is a fantastic tool, but will sometimes frustrate us.  Be patient with yourselves. Know that we want our students and teachers to follow the same advice.  

Phase II Remote Learning Plan (Extended through April 30)
As you may be aware, Governor JB Pritzker announced that remote learning in Illinois will be extended through April 30 in order to slow down the spread of COVID-19. We assure you that we are committed to continuing to provide remote learning until we are able to resume school.  We want to thank you, our students, and staff for the feedback you provided via our recent survey, which helps us ensure that our next phase of remote learning is most meaningful.  

Phase II Remote Learning Goals
  • Ensure the social-emotional needs of students are addressed and supported.
  • Provide continuing educational experiences for students that will address critical areas in the curriculum from now until school reopens.
  • Implement a sustainable and manageable instructional framework for teachers that balances instructional time with necessary planning/collaboration time.  
Curricular Priorities
We will not be able to address all expected curricular objectives while working within a remote learning model. The challenge we most want to recognize is that despite all of our best efforts, we will all--parents and teachers--be unable to fully replicate the experience of being at school.  Our teachers are working across the district at each grade level to ensure common, prioritized learning objectives are being addressed. We will begin introducing new curriculum content starting Monday, April 6.

School Day & Teacher Availability
We have ensured that the learning day runs from 9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. to afford everyone, including our staff, time to step away from school work in order to tend to other personal priorities that help keep everyone healthy.  Please be aware that staff are advised to respond to emails within this timeframe, therefore, emails sent in the evening will likely be responded to the next day. We are truly putting forth an amazing effort in true Winnetka style and balance and positivity need to fuel us for these upcoming weeks.

Schedules for Elementary, Skokie and Washburne 
Each schedule reflects our best effort to meet the challenges of flexibly adapting to a new learning environment while providing a sense of community and connectedness for students and their families. 

ACCESS SCHEDULES HERE:

K-4 Elementary (PDF/Screencast)
Skokie (Grades 5-6)  (PDF/Screencast)
Washburne (Grade 7-8)  (PDF/Screencast)

Here is a calendar for Skokie/Washburne for the month of April. 

You will note that we have added a special Grey Day once a week for all students, beginning on Monday, April 13.   Grey Days were added to the schedule to achieve the following:
  • Provide all students with common, theme-based activities designed to be accessible to the whole family . For example, our first Grey Day on April 13 is focused on the theme of Gratitude. There will be opportunities for students to do this work independently as well as with family members...More to come on this!
  • Add time for students to engage in independent work and to catch up on assignments/projects. We know families are facing a variety of challenges and constraints that can add to student stress. Providing this flexible time for students will allow them to catch up or explore deeper as needed. 
  • Afford teachers common time to prioritize curricular objectives across the District for consistency and alignment.  Moreover, a high degree of teacher collaboration will also ensure smooth transition and articulation to the next grade level. 
Elementary Schedules → School Days are listed as Grey Days or Regular Remote Learning Days
  • On Regular days, time is designated during the blocks for remote learning activities. These activities may include a variety of instructional methods ranging from pre-recorded (asynchronous lessons), live classroom discussions, digital learning applications to hands-on activities. 
  • Grey Days are explained above.
Skokie/Washburne Schedules → School days are listed as Blue Days, Green Days, or Grey Days 
  • On Blue days and Green Days, time is designated during the blocks for remote learning activities. Half of the classes meet on Tuesday/Thursday and the other Wednesday/Friday (exception is week of April 6). These activities may include a variety of instructional methods ranging from pre-recorded (asynchronous lessons), live classroom discussions, digital learning applications to hands-on activities. 
  • Grey Days are explained above.
  • The color coding for these days aligns with New Trier High School in an effort to help our families keep easier track of the schedules.
Advisory/Morning Meeting Expectations
  • We have heard from students, staff, and parents about the importance of peer-to-peer and student-teacher connection during this time, especially as it relates to everyone's social-emotional health and well-being.  Therefore, all classroom teachers/advisors will schedule at least three synchronous meetings per week for all grades except kindergarten.  
Special Education
There has been ongoing and evolving guidance in the area of special education at the local, state, and federal levels. We will work to continue to provide services and support to all students with IEPs.  Special Education teachers and related service providers will be contacting parents to outline how remote special education services will be provided to students within the context of our current circumstances.  

Technology Support
Please expect that technology is going to have times when it is down/not working correctly. Millions of students are shifting to remote learning, and this is creating challenges with internet connectivity, bandwidth, and functionality of online platforms. This is beyond our control at this time. If something is not working, your child can take a break and try again later. If it is frustrating, encourage your child to step away and do an offline activity.  Also, please contact our Technology Department if you need help with technology issues during the school day.

Family Learning/Support Opportunities 
Please visit our Family Resources page
to access information to help your family during this time. Our partners at New Trier have provided this helpful list of community mental health resources
.

We are grateful for the many ways you have supported our learning community during this unprecedented sequence of events. Please continue to reach out to your child's teacher and building principal if you have questions specific to your school. You can also email information@winnetka36.org for general questions that you would like answered and potentially added to our FAQ document on the website. We look forward to reconnecting with Phase II of remote learning next week. Enjoy your weekend and please stay safe.

Sincerely,

Dr. Trisha Kocanda,
Superintendent

The Winnetka Public Schools community empowers every student to flourish in 
an innovative, experiential environment. We support and challenge all learners 
to actively engage in continual growth and achievement to make 
a meaningful difference in the world.  

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