Keeping Our Schools Safe
District Plans for the Remainder of the 2020-2021 School Year
Since March 2020, D63 has sought to provide a high quality education and safe learning environment for our students and staff. As the months have passed during this pandemic, like all school districts, we've had to constantly adjust how we connect with students. It's been a challenging and unsettling time, to say the least.
Currently, D63 offers fully remote and hybrid learning options. Most of our families (62 percent) chose to continue with our 63 Online remote program; a smaller number (38 percent) opted to send their children back into our buildings last January each morning (or each afternoon for some preschoolers) for in-person learning.
District 63 does not plan to make any changes to these learning options for the remaining seven instructional weeks of this school year.
Why won't the District consider fully re-opening schools?
- D63 students have experienced an enormous amount of upheaval over the past 12 months - including schedule changes (particularly at Gemini), new bus routes and times, and teacher changes for many. Our 63 Online/63 Hybrid Programs are working well for most families - and consistently offering these programs since mid-January has provided some much-needed stability. With seven instructional school weeks remaining, we believe there is very little benefit to creating yet more upheaval.
- D63 is committed to protecting children by using social distancing to the extent possible and masks. While appropriate social distancing in the classroom is achievable with only 38 percent of our students in our buildings, should we fully reopen our buildings, we do not currently have the capacity to adequately socially distance students and staff.
- We do not currently have the capability of providing lunch in a socially distant manner. This is especially important during lunch when masks will be removed for extended periods of time.
- Our staff members are not fully vaccinated (although that should be rectified in the coming weeks).
- We believe that these final few weeks should be spent focusing on student learning and support and successfully wrapping up this school year - not rebuilding the school day.
How is it that other Districts are re-opening despite many of the same issues?
The Board and Administration are aware of the hardship this pandemic has caused and for the need to return to "normal." However, each district is unique - and what works for another district does not work for every district. One size does not fit all.
Possibly other districts’ buildings and facilities may be better suited to safely serving lunches - and they may be able to fully staff such an extensive change. Finally, the State of Illinois has left many COVID safety decisions up to individual school districts. As we are not medical experts, we have chosen to follow CDC guidelines to the extent possible - regardless of the decisions other districts may make.
Again, the questionable benefit of bringing students back for a mere nine weeks does not, we strongly believe, outweigh the upheaval created by making this shift for such a short time period.
Our goal and pledge to our families is to continue to provide the children of District 63 with as much stability and consistency as possible in their school day, in the safest possible manner, for the small amount of the school year remaining - and we look forward to a full return to "normal" when we kick off the 2021-2022 year on August 16.