Dear District 86 Community, 

During the board of education meeting on June 25, Principal Bill Walsh, Principal Arwen Pokorny Lyp and I provided an update on the work our district is doing to prepare for the start of the 2020-21 school year. This work is being led by our Recovery-Revitalization-Restored Committee, which is a group composed of teachers, department chairs, and building and district administrators that is charged with identifying scenarios and developing plans for our return in the fall. You can read a summary of the update by visiting https://bit.ly/3g2dhU4 and access the presentation we gave to the board by visiting https://bit.ly/3dBB0Jg

One of the topics we discussed during the update is the document the Illinois State Board of Education and Illinois Department of Public Health created regarding the resumption of in-person learning ( https://www.isbe.net/Documents/Part-3-Transition-Planning-Phase-4.pdf). This document, which was released on June 23, features a great deal of information about a number of topics. Unfortunately, it lacks definitive guidance or direction on a number of important issues. For example, Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois plan requires schools to operate under a limit of 50 people per room instead of the restrictions on capacity by percentage that are being imposed on businesses such as restaurants. We will need to account for this issue, as well as the guidelines about social distancing and the use of face coverings, in all aspects and elements of our planning – e.g., determining the number of students we can have in a classroom, organizing the physical layout of our instructional spaces, managing the logistics associated with activities such as lunch, etc. With this in mind, we plan to continue working with local and state officials to ensure that we have a clear set of procedures, protocols and parameters in place that will best support a safe return to school. 

We understand, appreciate and share the desire of individuals who are calling for the return to in-person instruction. However, we must balance that desire with the stark reality of the COVID-19 pandemic and the need to preserve and protect the health and well-being of our students, staff, families and community members. With cases on the rise again in a number of states, including most of the ones that border Illinois, it is imperative that we stand ready to implement any of the instructional models (in-person, hybrid and remote learning) we are currently discussing and exploring. It is also critical that we remain flexible in our planning so that we are able to quickly, easily and effectively transition between models, or adapt them if necessary. 

Please know that we will continue to do the following to get ready for the school year:

  • Review and assess all of the information and guidance that local, state and federal health organizations and government agencies are issuing about COVID-19 and its impact on the return to school.

  • Talk and meet with representatives from the DuPage County Health Department, DuPage Regional Office of Education, and DuPage high schools and feeder schools on a regular basis, and work closely and collaboratively with all of them to design a comprehensive plan for the upcoming school year that recognizes that we will not be coming back to “school as usual,” and reflects the new educational reality in Illinois.

  • Listen to the voices of our stakeholders, leverage their extensive experience and expertise, and identify opportunities to get their feedback on our planning efforts. For example, during their meeting on July 9, the students, staff and parents/guardians who serve on our Parent-Teacher Advisory Committee (https://bit.ly/2BC1yNc) will be reviewing and offering input on the recommendations from our Recovery-Revitalization-Restored Committee. 

  • Thoroughly and thoughtfully plan for all aspects of the educational experience we offer (e.g., instruction, co-curricular activities, athletics, transportation, food service, etc.), as well as for the diverse academic, physical, social and emotional needs of our learners. 

  • Communicate the latest news, information and updates about our plans for the school year and any changes we make in response to the pandemic.  

The Recovery-Revitalization-Restored Committee will spend the next few weeks finalizing its recommended course of action, and will present its proposed plan to the board on July 23. In the meantime, I ask that you please remain patient through this complex and complicated process, and continue to share your thoughts and feedback with us. 

Despite the lingering questions that exist regarding COVID-19, we are looking forward to the start of another exciting school year. We also greatly appreciate your continued help and support as we guide our students down the path toward their ideal future.

Sincerely,  

Tammy Prentiss
Superintendent