On Monday, August 3, Superintendent Andy DuRoss shared the following communication with District 54 families and staff.
Since COVID-19 first made an appearance in other countries, District 54 employees have been discussing how we can educate our students in person, knowing that children benefit from the connections with their teachers and other staff, as well as their peers. At the same time, we have worked on enhancing our virtual learning program so that if students had to or chose to learn remotely, they would have access to the same strong academic program, as well as a focus on their social-emotional well-being.
The safety and health of our students and our staff is now, and has always been, a top priority for District 54. On July 10, we presented our Reopening Plan to you, giving families the option of in-person learning or virtual learning. Thank you to the thousands of families who examined the District 54 Reopening Plan and made a selection for their children.
However, the COVID-19 positivity rates have continued to rise at the national and state level since flattening in June. On August 2, Illinois announced its 12th straight day of more than 1,000 new COVID-19 cases and a rising positivity rate, bringing the state’s total to 181,943 cases.
As the numbers continue to grow, we feel the only safe option is for all of our students to start the school year virtually. We understand this presents a hardship for some families and we worked diligently to find a way to host in-person instruction. Ultimately, we have to put health and safety first.
The virtual learning model will be improved from last spring and will include the following:
A 5-hour instructional day, delivered utilizing a blended learning environment of both live lessons and independent work (2.5 hours for our early childhood students);
Teachers engaging with students online every day via Zoom or Google Meet, including time for community building and a minimum of 2.5 hours live lessons (1.5 hours for early childhood);
A daily acceleration block for literacy and math for students needing additional support;
Daily support focusing on the well-being of our students; and
Students being assessed for their learning and issued grades aligned to Illinois State Standards and the District 54 Essential Outcomes.
More details about remote learning can be found at the following links.
We will continue to provide you with updates throughout the school year as we work together as a community. District 54 has also prepared a COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions page, which we will continue to update as new information becomes available.
Families can log into the portal on August 10 to see their child’s teacher and junior high schedule. We will be assigning students to teachers at their regular school or open enrollment school. To set up a portal account, email [email protected].
The first day of school will be August 24 for students in first through eighth grade, and August 31 for early childhood and kindergarten students.
We will schedule distribution days at each school, so families can pick up textbooks, workbooks, digital devices and other instructional materials the week of August 17. Your principal will send a follow-up email with dates and times. Hotspots are also available for financially struggling families who don’t have internet access at home. Let your school principal know if you need a hotspot.
A District 54 Pandemic Advisory Team will monitor the pandemic conditions, as well as guidance from the Illinois State Board of Education, Illinois Department of Public Health and other medical entities, and make recommendations regarding the potential return to in-person instruction including instructional models and dates of return.
This remote learning plan will be a topic of discussion at the School Board meeting at 7 p.m. August 6. The meeting will be virtual but people can watch it live at this Zoom link. The district has a Zoom license for 3,000 attendees. A recording from the meeting also will be posted to sd54.org after the meeting concludes. Public comments can be emailed to [email protected] by 6 p.m. August 6.
This is a challenging time for everyone, but as always we are committed to providing our students with a high-quality education. Thank you all for your support.