Superintendent's Message to the Community, 3.18.20

What an incredibly challenging set of events that continues to change the landscape of what “normal” means in our state, nation, and world.... This unprecedented time makes me prouder than ever to work in such a dedicated community. Over the last few days we have been focused on the following priorities:

  • Feeding our students and families who need support
  • Developing ongoing learning plans and opportunities for students
  • Accounting for the health, safety, and welfare of all of our nearly 4,000 students and staff 

Priority One: Feeding our students and families

We put out the call and you answered it!  Staff and community member food and household donations filled our distribution site!  
As of yesterday, we will have packed breakfasts and lunches available for parents of kids in need to pick up daily at the following site:
Exceptional Learners Collaborative’s NEW location at 990 Corporate Woods Parkway, Vernon Hills, IL.  
Families may drive up to pick up a packed breakfast/lunch any time between 11:00 am - 1:00 pm each weekday (Monday-Friday). Families may also access nonperishable items at that time. In the event families are not able to come to the ELC during this time, they should contact the ELC at 224-513-6448 or email [email protected] to see if other arrangements can be made.

Priority Two: Developing ongoing learning plans and opportunities for students

Monday was a teacher planning day during which our teams collaborated to develop learning activities by grade level and subject area. This will be considered an “institute day” on our calendar, replacing the one previously scheduled for Mar. 17.  
As of yesterday,  all schools in Illinois are being ordered to close through Mar. 30 by Governor Pritzker. The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) has mandated that the rest of the days this week (Mar. 17–19) be considered “Act of God Days.” (As a reminder, Mar. 23 - 27 is Spring Break.) By state mandate, “Act of God Days” do not have to be made up at the end of the school year.  We do not know what the Illinois State Board of Education will require us to make up in the end, and will likely not know for some time. Everything is tentative, based on evolving communication from the governor and president. Once decisions have been made, I will send an updated calendar communication. It does not make sense to communicate an adjusted calendar until more is known.
In District 96  we believe it is important to continue engaging our students. Our schools and staff are leaders in public education and we have a robust remote learning plan developed.  We are making resources and activities available tomorrow.

  • On Thurs., Mar. 19, all parents will receive information via email regarding activities and learning for the first four identified days of remote learning (Mar. 31 - Apr. 3), but students should feel free to begin their work sooner if they choose.
  • The Mar. 19 communication will include a Q & A for parents.
  • Additional daily plans will be sent as the situation evolves.
  • A link to additional resources and activities is at the bottom of this message. We encourage all families to access these.
  • Beginning Mar. 31, you will receive daily communication from teachers. 

Priority Three: Accounting for the health, safety, and welfare of all of our nearly 4,000 students and staff

Our 550 employees are dealing with the unknown with their own families. It’s important that we all take a deep breath and support one another during this time. Please continue to show patience and respect as we make our way through this extended time away from school and our normal routines. Please also continue to understand that the email response will be delayed during this time, depending on volume.
We will navigate this together, as we always do!  Please take a moment to read the following message to your students from me.  
A Message to Our Students
As your superintendent, I want to take the time to send a message to each of you. I am truly sorry your lives have been impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak in such a significant manner. 

I realize that many of you lost opportunities this spring to participate, compete, and perform in extracurricular activities, and for some of you, the result of these cancellations is incredibly impactful on your lives. We have had to cancel field trips and other activities, as well—and, of course, school itself is closed. 

I realize that many of you are concerned about your education continuing, or whether you’ll be prepared for next year or for high school. 

I am so sorry this is occurring—it is a historic and epic time in the history of our country and the entire world. District 96 schools are an integral part of our community and we will work through this together. We will miss seeing you daily during the time that schools must be closed! You are THE MOST important parts of our lives as educators! 

In the next few days, we will release plans about what we will do moving ahead while schools are closed. Patience and flexibility are incredibly important for all of us. In the meantime, I urge you to stay healthy–you know the drill: wash your hands thoroughly and frequently, stay home when you’re sick, and actively practice social distancing. 

I also encourage you to think about the things that we all still CAN do—the past few days have been filled with can’ts, don’ts, canceled, called off, etc.—but there are still important and positive things we can do and focus on during these challenging times. Please know that the adults of the community care for you and love you. We share your frustrations and disappointments, but know this: We’ll get through this together, emerging even stronger.  
Resources and Activities
Stay safe,
–Julie Schmidt, District 96 Superintendent of Schools