Weekly Update
Below is important information and celebrations from the District Office for D181 families and staff. We have also copied our Key Communicators on this message for a community FYI.
Message from Supt. Dr. Hector Garcia
Dear D181 community,

These past few weeks have highlighted the incredible resilience, flexibility, and teamwork of our school community in the face of many unknowns. As we celebrate all that has been done to keep our school doors open and offer excellent learning environments for our students, we are also faced with the challenge of dealing with sporadic COVID-19 cases in some schools and a rising number in our community and Districtwide.

Internal and External Factors
State Mandates: Over the next few days and weeks, we will continue to follow the guidance from the Governor's office and the Illinois Department of Public Health. At this time, there is no work-from-home mandate for school employees or an order for student learning to go fully remote. If the state does order this, we will comply with it immediately.

Staffing: Prior to the start of the school year, our administrative team developed a robust staffing model to sustain in-person learning in our hybrid/remote model. We will continue to use substitutes, permanent substitutes, and in-house substitute support as a way to support student learning as teachers are required to quarantine. We will thoughtfully reevaluate our learning model if we have outbreaks or we are unable to sustain a high level of instruction.

Current Successes: At our Board of Education on Monday, Nov. 9, we shared quantifiable evidence of what we have believed to be true for the past several weeks. The simple story is that our mitigation efforts, in terms of the safety protocols and procedures, are working in all of the schools. For example:
  • None of the positive COVID-19 cases in D181 students or staff have been linked to a transmission that took place at school. This is based upon the findings of the DuPage County Health Department.  
  • Our safety efforts received an overall favorable score of 90% on our parent and transition team surveys.

Thank you for adhering to the safety protocols and doing your part to stop the spread of COVID-19 while out in the community. I also want to thank our teachers, staff, and administrative team for their extraordinary work during this time.  
Personal Responsibility: It cannot be stressed enough how important it is that we all continue to follow the recommended safety protocols in our schools, out in the community, and at home. Please wear your mask, watch your distance, and wash your hands frequently. Please also continue to monitor for symptoms, take your child's temperature daily before school, and do not send your child to school if they are experiencing any symptoms of illness.
Additionally, if your child has been in close contact with someone who has tested positive, do not send your child to school. As a reminder, close contact is defined as within 6 feet for a cumulative 15 minutes. This would include the scenario of your child being in close contact with a family member, teammate, neighbor, or playmate, just to name a few examples.
Surveillance Testing: We continue to explore the possibility of surveillance testing in our schools to add another layer of safety. This effort will allow us to further mitigate the spread of COVID-19 amongst our school community and retain our track record of zero spread within our schools. More information on this will be shared at our Dec. 7 Board of Education meeting. 

We hope that you find this information helpful, and that you remain encouraged about our work as a school community to-date — amidst the most challenging situation we have seen as educators, we are doing a phenomenal job and continue to stand out as a lighthouse district.

Thank you for your continued partnership,
Dr. Hector Garcia, D181 Superintendent
Daily Updates - COVID-19 Spreadsheet
As of today, we will be updating the D181 Positive Case Report Spreadsheet daily on weekdays at 4 p.m. (holidays excluded) instead of weekly. We are also now indicating on the spreadsheet whether a student who tests positive is in the A.M. or P.M. session.

This spreadsheet is accessible on the District Reopening Page, along with our more data-intensive Internal Dashboard, which is updated weekly on Mondays.

According to the 11-06-20 Dashboard, COVID-related absences during the week of 11/02-11/06 were as follows:
  • 47 staff absent for a total of 126 days (8.3% of onsite staff)
  • 163 students absent for a total of 339 days (5.1% of in-person students)
Remote Learning - Home Classroom Reminder
REMINDER: It is extremely important for students engaged in the parallel remote learning setting to have a specific location in the home that is designated as their “home classroom.”

This location should have: a desk or table, a chair, an outlet to plug in the student device,
reliable internet access, and various student supplies. The “home classroom” should be located in a place that is free of distractions or household background noise.
Veterans Day - Virtual Assembly
Since students were unable to gather for their typical Veterans Day assemblies this year, D181 principals and staff worked together to share a Districtwide Virtual Veterans Day assembly with all students.
The assembly includes student Boy Scouts leading the Pledge, local veteran and D181 parent Lori Collins sharing about her service in the Air Force, a sing-along of the Armed Forces Songs, and six middle school trumpet players playing "Taps."
Thank you to everyone who made these celebrations possible, and most importantly, thank you to all veterans for your service.
Prospect Students Veterans Day Project
Prospect fourth-graders Katelyn Lyon, Naya Patel, Olivia (Liv) Gledhill, and Madelyn Moon created blankets for veterans as part of their “Warmth & Care for Veterans” project. The four girls created the blankets together and delivered them to the Midwest Shelter for Homeless Veterans. Thank you to the D181 Foundation for supporting this program through the D181 Kids Grants and Prospect students for your thoughtful and creative work!
Veterans Day - Special Connection at HMS
On Veteran's Day 2004, HMS Social Studies teacher Katie Speetzen was working in documentary television production when she learned her high school classmate and friend, J.P. Blecksmith, had been killed during the Battle of Fallujah in Iraq.

Deeply impacted by the loss, Mrs. Speetzen transitioned her passion from documentary film to teaching history.

After earning her bachelor's in History from Northwestern University, Master's in Education from DePaul University, National Board Certification in Social Studies, and teaching at both the middle school and collegiate level, Mrs. Speetzen joined HMS this past fall as a social studies teacher.

As part of her commitment to honoring the story of her friend and all veterans, Mrs. Speetzen shared 2nd Lt. Blecksmith's story of sacrifice with her 7th grade students this year, followed by a discussion of the many ways Americans can serve their communities. Thank you for sharing your story with us and with your students, Mrs. Speetzen!
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