Superintendent's Message, 4.28.20

Dear Parents and Community Members:

It’s almost May. The calendar moves ahead–even as our daily planners bear little resemblance to what’s typical for this time of year.

Summer is coming, our 2019–20 school year will come to a scheduled end, we’ll clean out lockers and cubbies, we’ll celebrate our 8th-Grade Class of 2020 thoughtfully and appropriately, and we’ll offer expanded opportunities for beneficial summer learning.

The details will look quite different, however, so please read the following carefully to plan ahead. Understand that we continue to refine plans and, when final, we will communicate details and specific instructions via Principal Messages, E-NEWS 96, social media, targeted emails, and/or my Superintendent Messages.

Summer Learning Opportunities

Given the end of in-person learning in the current school year and the extension of the governor’s stay-at-home order, combined with guidance and information from the state, it has become obvious that most summer learning opportunities will happen virtually. We are currently working to define and expand those opportunities. Information regarding offerings will be sent to families the week of May 11, inviting registration. Dates for summer opportunities are as follows:

  • Summer virtual learning sessions:  June 8 – July 2
  • Extended School Year (ESY) for eligible students:  July 13 – August 6
  • Jump Start Kindergarten: Registration on hold. (Will be offered only if circumstances allow)

8th-Grade Graduation

In my April 1 message, I shared that–due to the governor’s extended school closure announcement–the 8th-grade graduation ceremony was being postponed. I also indicated that each of our schools would work to celebrate its graduates either on a different date or via other means, as circumstances allow. I outlined the contributing factors that included facility availability and up-to-date guidance regarding social distancing and large gatherings.

Much has happened since April 1, including orders ending in-person learning for the remainder of the school year and the extension of stay-at-home orders. In addition, most summer learning opportunities will be virtual. Thus, we will be honoring and celebrating our graduating 8th graders via a pre-recorded virtual ceremony. This ceremony will mirror a traditional ceremony, with comments from our principals, myself, and Board of Education President Marc Tepper. Each graduate will be recognized individually and each school’s Superintendent Award winners will prepare and record comments for their classmates.

In addition to the traditional pre-recorded ceremony, each school is preparing a celebratory video for the 8th-grade class. In addition, teacher teams will host zooms on May 26 to connect and to say goodbye to the students. Lastly, plans are being made for diploma, materials, and yearbook pick-up and iPad drop-off.

Milestones are a significant part of growing up and the fact that we are not able to bring everyone together for this one is profoundly disappointing. Each student and each family is unique and may react to this reality differently. Some of you likely saw this as inevitable and the only path forward weeks ago, while others were sure that we would all be able to gather by late May. I get it. Amongst my daughter and her 8th-grade friends, feelings span the continuum from devastation about missed traditions to relief at not having to buy and wear a dress! We share in all those feelings and know that each family will partner with us to fill in the gaps to ensure that our 8th graders know how happy we are for them and how proud we are of them as they take the next step in their educational and life journey.

Materials Pick-Up

Items are being carefully gathered and plans are being made for families to pick up their students’ personal materials left at school. Dates and plans are being finalized for grades Early Childhood–Grade 7 and separately for Grade 8. Once those plans have been finalized, all details will be shared with students and families.

Remote Learning Calendar Update

With remote learning being extended through the end of the school year, please note important dates below:

Remote Learning Planning Days: 

  • May 4
  • May 15
  • May 22

Last Day of Remote Learning for 8th Graders:

  • May 22

8th-Grade Celebration Day:

  • May 26

Last Day of Remote Learning, Early Childhood – Grade 7:

  • May 29

First Day of Virtual Summer Opportunities:

  • June 8

Materials Pick-Up Early Childhood – Grade 7:

  • To be determined

Materials, Diploma Pick-Up, & iPad Drop-Off for 8th Graders:

  • To be determined

Emergency Childcare Information

Lastly, the state has shared with us facilities and programs that have been approved to provide emergency childcare services for essential employees during this time. We include a link to these Area Daycare Centers in Lake County.

In Summary

I am so thankful that over 99% of our students are regularly engaging in remote learning. These rates of engagement in remote learning would not be happening if it weren’t for the efforts of our staff to connect with each student and if it weren’t for YOU partnering with us to ensure that learning opportunities continue. It has been and will continue to be a highly valued partnership.

– Julie Schmidt, District 96 Superintendent of Schools