Dear District 86 Community,
First and foremost, I want to thank everyone who has shared their comments, questions and feedback about our decision to resume classes today. I greatly appreciate the input you provided, and understand the concerns you have about the spread and potential impact of COVID-19.
Second, I want to provide insight into what led to our decision, and what we will be doing to assess and evaluate our plans going forward. Since there have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in DuPage County, all schools in our area have been instructed by the DuPage Regional Office of Education (ROE) and the DuPage County Health Department (DCHD), in consultation and coordination with the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and the governor’s office, to remain open at this time, and take preventative measures to limit the spread of the virus. Any schools in our county that have moved to e-learning did so against the guidance of the ROE and DCHD.
With that said, I, like many of you, have been left confused and frustrated by the seemingly contradictory information we are receiving. For example, Governor Pritzker stated during his press conference last night that events that would attract more than 1,000 people are prohibited, but schools like ours with more than 1,000 students and staff should remain open. In addition, the situation involving the Sectional basketball game between Hinsdale South and Benet Academy changed several times (forfeiture, game on with limited or no spectators, game canceled) over the course of a few hours based on the information and direction from the Illinois High School Association (IHSA). Despite our collective frustration, I also know how difficult it is for our local, state and national health organizations and government agencies to manage this constantly evolving situation, and appreciate all of their efforts to help us navigate it in a manner that will best preserve and protect everyone’s health and safety.
Third, while our plan is to remain open, there are several conference calls scheduled today with local superintendents, as well as regional and statewide school and health officials, to assess and evaluate the current prescribed course of action, discuss what changes we can or should make given the unpredictability of this situation, and determine the ripple effect these changes may have on our students, staff and families. For example, we have more than 500 students in our district who qualify for free and reduced lunch, and others who receive critical services on a daily basis (social work, physical therapy, occupational therapy, etc.). It is imperative that we determine how their needs will be met should we move to e-learning. In addition, a number of our families and staff members are traveling for spring break. Should we choose to shut down, we need to consider whether that should extend beyond the break in the event that anyone from our community is exposed to or becomes infected with the virus while they are away.
Fourth, our athletic and activity directors, coaches and faculty sponsors will keep our students and families updated on the status of individual practices, competitions and events. While we intend to proceed with spring sports and activities as scheduled, this situation also remains fluid. For example, all home and away events for sports teams at Hinsdale Central that were scheduled for this weekend have been canceled. I will work with the buildings to ensure that information or updates are shared in a timely manner, and provide clear direction about how to proceed. Should we make a districtwide decision about after-school events and activities, I will communicate that information in a forthcoming update.
Thank you again as for your incredible patience and understanding as we work through this challenging situation.