Superintendent's Message, 4.1.20

Dear District 96 Community,

We hope that you are well and developing ways to adjust to our new “normal.” Yesterday was the first day of full implementation of remote learning for our students. It warmed my heart to see examples of and hear about the connections our teachers and students were making. 

Each school and each district has had to navigate remote learning a bit differently. We were fortunate not to have to redesign our remote learning plan, while others had to make adjustments based on newly issued guidelines from the Illinois State Board of Education. Each district’s calendar is a bit different, which led to differences in initial implementation. As an Area 125 Consortium, we continue to communicate and collaborate daily. And–while we know that learning is a priority–connecting and maintaining relationships is just as important during this challenging time.  

Yesterday, Governor Pritzker announced the interruption of “in-person” learning would continue at least through Apr. 30. While we are preparing for the possibility of a return to school on May 4, we are also planning for the realistic possibility that we will have to finish the year teaching and learning remotely. Thus, we have been preparing for transition from a short-term plan to a long-term plan. As you can imagine, our teachers, coaches, and administrators have been working tirelessly to ensure that the plan is high quality, while at the same time making all of the necessary adjustments in their own personal lives.  

Please note the following, effective Mon., Apr. 6:

  • Learning plans will be pushed out DAILY (not in multiple-day “chunks”) and will be shared by 5:00 p.m. the evening before.
  • Learning plans will make clear what work should be turned in each day.
  • Feedback will be provided on work by the end of each week.
  • Face-to-face classroom meetings or sessions (Zoom, Seesaw, etc.) will be scheduled by individual teachers and communicated.
  • The state has allotted 5 “remote planning days” for teachers to plan upcoming learning for the duration of closures.
  • During “remote planning days,” teachers will not be available in real time; however, learning activities will be pushed out for these days by our instructional coaching teams. Dates for "remote planning days" for teachers are as follows:
      – Mon., Apr. 13
      – Fri., Apr. 24
  • Teachers will continue to prioritize making connections with kids and families and maintaining these critical relationships.
  • Please note that with the entire country moving to remote learning at the same time, there may be periodic disruptions of online platforms like Schoology. We have no control over these disruptions, but we will continue to communicate with these hosts and make any information available to you.

8th-Grade Graduation
Unfortunately, with the Governor’s announcement regarding the extended school closure dates and his statement regarding not knowing when it will be safe to congregate, our 8th-grade graduation ceremonies scheduled to take place at Stevenson High School on Tues., May 26, must be postponed at this time, out of an abundance of safety and concern for the well-being of our graduates and their families and guests. Stevenson High School announced the same today.

We understand that school is about more than just learning academic content. It also is about social connections and a sense of belonging. We recognize this is a disappointment for our students, families, and staff, as graduation is an important milestone in all our lives. I have my own 8th-grade daughter who is processing what all of this means for her, as well. As a mom, I am supporting her to the best of my ability by reinforcing that these measures are critical for the health and safety of all. Each of our schools will work to celebrate its graduates either on a different date or via other means, as circumstances allow. These circumstances will include not only facility availability, but up-to-date guidance regarding social distancing and large gatherings.

Lastly, if you or someone you know would benefit from receiving food from our daily distribution center, please know there are NO criteria for access to this service. This service is available Monday–Friday from 11:00 a.m.–1:00 p.m. at the Exceptional Learners Collaborative (ELC) located at 990 Corporate Woods Parkway, Vernon Hills, Il. Drive-through pick-up is behind the building. Please email [email protected] for assistance.

Thank you for understanding that this is an unprecedented time for all of us. We all look forward to a time when we can celebrate together once again.

All the best,
Julie Schmidt, District 96 Superintendent of Schools