Superintendent's Message, 6.23.20

This message includes a summary of 2019–20 Remote Learning Survey results and guidelines for resuming in-person instruction in the 2020–21 school year, as announced today by Governor Pritzker.

Remote Learning Survey Summary

Earlier in June, we surveyed 2019–20 students, parents, and District 96 staff seeking feedback regarding their remote learning experiences. We will use this feedback to design a more robust experience SHOULD we need to access remote learning at any point during the 2020-21 school year. 

The following information summarizes the themes of the quantitative and narrative responses to the staff, student, and parent surveys administered in early June.  Responses were distributed somewhat evenly across schools and across grade levels.

Staff Survey Responses

In surveying teachers, we found the focus of responses was on collaboration, communication, and the technical and logistical aspects of improving remote learning with higher levels of accountability and interaction. 

Student Survey Responses

Over 680 students (Grades 4-7) responded and the majority stated they felt academically challenged during remote learning. 

Using Zoom made the students feel connected to their classmates and teachers and the instructional videos helped them learn. Students indicated they would prefer Zoom sessions 3 – 4 times per week, each lasting about 30 – 40 minutes.

The majority of the students (58%) spent 2 – 3 hours per day on remote learning and reported they were able to keep in contact with their teachers via Schoology and email.

Limited support and time management were the biggest difficulties identified by students; they indicated a desire for more small- and whole-class Zoom Sessions and increased structure and consistency from teacher to teacher.

Parent Survey Responses

Of the 908 parents who responded, 100% indicated they had Internet connectivity before remote learning began.

On a scale of 1 – 5, with 5 being Most satisfied and 1 being Least satisfied, 78% rated their satisfaction with remote learning at a 3, 4, or 5 and 72% indicated the remote learning supported their students’ academic growth.

Parents indicated a number of challenges with transitioning to remote learning, such as separation from peers and teachers, amount of independence required, the level of challenge (too much or too little), using technology, and inadequate feedback from teachers, yet overall they felt the transition became smoother over time.

Parents were pleased with the connection their students made with classmates and teachers through Zoom, the morning messages from principals, the growth students made in independence and self-pacing, 1:1 Zoom sessions, and the clear and structured elementary slideshows. Further, 74% of parents were satisfied with the amount of work provided to help their students continue learning, with parents indicating that the majority of students spent 2 – 3 hours per day on remote learning.

Parents overwhelmingly indicated the school communication was satisfactory (96%), but would appreciate more Zoom meetings, 1:1 check-ins with parents, and more interaction with specials classes teachers.

Data received reflected 62% of parents did not have any difficulty navigating the apps their students used, but would like to participate in parent-professional learning on the applications and programs involved in their student’s remote learning.

Some suggestions from families to improve remote learning were for more daily interactions and teaching via Zoom and for more consistency regarding interaction and responsiveness from teachers, yet compliments to teachers who maintained relationships with students and families were abundant.

We'll consider your comments and suggestions as we prepare for any potential need to implement remote learning during the 2020-21 school year. As always, we appreciate and value your input!  

Guidelines Announced for Resuming In-Person Instruction

As Illinois transitions to Phase 4, Governor Pritzker announced guidelines that will allow schools to resume in-person instruction safely in the upcoming 2020-21 school year. Please note that this does not signify a return to pre-pandemic operations. All public schools in Illinois serving Pre-K through Grade 12 must follow the guidelines developed in partnership with the Illinois State Board of Education and the Illinois Department of Public Health, including appropriate social distancing, face coverings, enhanced sanitation, screening, and other accommodating measures. See STARTING THE 2020–21 SCHOOL YEAR for guidance provided by these health agencies.

This 60-page document has been much anticipated and will go a long way toward answering critical questions for all of us about what the 2020-21 school year will look like in terms of in-person learning or a blended model, scheduling, transportation, wearing masks, social distancing and other measures intended to keep everyone safe and healthy, while also re-engaging students in the learning process. 

This document was released to school districts at the same time it was released to the public. We will now thoroughly review this detailed guidance and begin to determine what is safe and feasible for our District’s own transition plan.

Please watch for more communication to come as we develop and finalize specific plans for what school in District 96 will look like in the fall. We are keenly aware of the urgent need to communicate to families about what to expect next school year and anticipate releasing our own transition plan no later than mid-July.

As you may know, our district formed a Reopening Task Force in early May and has already been discussing and designing potential options. This guidance will accelerate those conversations and I’m confident our district can put forth a plan that prioritizes the health and safety of our learning community while maintaining a dynamic learning environment. 

Thank you again for your patience, understanding, and flexibility as our entire District navigates a situation together that none of us could have imagined. 

Best wishes,
--Julie Schmidt, District 96 Superintendent of Schools