Willow Grove Principal's Message ~ March 13, 2020

Willow Grove Families,

Thank you for your flexibility and understanding given these unprecedented times.  Please know that all decisions that have been made at the district level are to ensure the health and safety of our students and school community.  We recognize that there are even larger-scale changes and trying times as a result of our current world status and extend our ongoing understanding.

Monday, March 16th - Pick Up Medication/Learning Materials

Any students or parents who believe they need materials they must have in order to complete academic tasks (i.e., iPads) may retrieve these items on Monday, March 16th from 1:00pm and 3:00pm.  Parents can also retrieve medication from the nurse’s office during this time. 

Students and parents must report to the main office. Designated staff members will retrieve materials for the students or parents.

*Note: There are not iPads for EC students 

Upcoming Building Level Communication

During the upcoming school closure, building principals will communicate using the Superintendent and Principal's Message periodically with pertinent information and updates.

During the week of Spring Break (March 23rd to March 27th), principals will not be sending any building level communication.

Remote Learning Plans

Remote learning plans for students will be shared prior to spring break.  Clear communication and expectations will be sent out via email.  

Early childhood students will not have iPads and plans will be developed and shared with parents that do not require the use of technology devices.

Superintendent's Message

District 96 Community,

To safeguard the health and wellness of all students and staff, and after consultation with Area 125 superintendents and considering the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) regarding limiting the gathering of large groups, we have decided to close District 96 schools to students beginning Monday, March 16th, in an abundance of caution and as a precautionary measure to limit the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) illness in our community. 

IMPORTANT: Any students who believe they need materials they must have in order to complete academic tasks (i.e., graphing calculators) may retrieve these items on Mon., Mar. 16, between 1 and 3 p.m.

Last fall, District 96 did have a remote learning plan approved. Last school year, we implemented the plan for an extreme weather day. We have been working diligently to update that plan to account for a potentially more extended closing. Early next week you will be receiving remote learning plans. These will be sent to your parent email addresses on file.

The dates identified below outline how days will be categorized. Spring Break days do not require a plan, as they were already built into our calendar as non-attendance days. In addition, Tuesday, March 17th, was already identified as a Teacher Institute day (non-attendance).  We also have five Emergency Days built in to our calendar and those will be used first. These days are now built into our calendar and mean that the last day of student attendance will now likely be Friday, June 5. 

Emergency Days that are already built into our calendar, extending the school year until Friday, June 5th:

Monday, March 16

Wednesday, March 18

Thursday, March 19

Friday, March 20

Monday, March 30

Identified non-attendance day (Institute / Election Day), no make-up:

Tuesday, March 17

Spring Break non-attendance days, no make-up:

Monday, March 23

Tuesday, March 24

Wednesday, March 25

Thursday, March 26

Friday, March 27

Remote Learning Days:

Tuesday, March 31

Wednesday, April 1

Thursday, April 2

Friday, April 3

Anticipated re-open if conditions allow:

Monday, April 6

The identified start date for remote learning is Tuesday, March 31. As you will be receiving remote plans early next week, students can certainly begin their remote learning plan. You or your student (depending on grade level) will receive a communication from the teacher(s) once per day on the four identified remote learning days. Work from remote learning will be due 5 days after school resumes in order for students to get additional teacher support if needed. 

While we know this is an unprecedented decision, these are unprecedented times. We are committed to following CDC recommendations and to do our part in taking preventative measures to mitigate the impact of this pandemic. While we have not been notified of any staff or students being diagnosed with COVID-19 at this time, we believe the evidence that makes it increasingly clear that it is better for schools to close sooner rather than later to slow the spread of the disease. Although it seems that the coronavirus has primarily impacted people 60 and older, the reality is that even if our students are less likely to be adversely affected, they still could be carriers of the disease. Closing the school reduces the incubation effect that occurs when hundreds of students and adults gather in the school on a daily basis. 

The decision to close school is not one we are making lightly. We are fully aware of the complications that this will cause in the lives of our students and their families — and for our faculty and staff, as well. Whatever the downsides of closing school may be, we believe that as a public school we have a shared responsibility to ensure the safety and well-being of our students, faculty and staff, and the larger District 96 community.

If conditions change as we approach April 6, official communication emails will be sent from the District level through our normal communication avenues.


Julie A. Schmidt, Superintendent of District 96 Schools

Kindergarten Families Only: FIRST-GRADE Parent Input for Class Placement (2020-2021)

Registration is still delayed (more info on that in eNews), however, we are collecting first-grade parent input for placement at this time through Friday, April 24.  

Entering kindergarten families for the 2020/21 school year will be able to provide input at a later date.  Registered families will receive a link later.  This is only for First-Grade families for the 2020/21 school year.

Creating balanced class lists that meet the needs of all students is a tremendously difficult job that takes many hours of thoughtful dialogue between classroom teachers, administrators, and specialists. At Willow Grove, we take this process very seriously. The process for class list creation is as follows:

Teachers reflect on the social and academic needs of each of their current students while recording pertinent information to assist in the decision making process.

Grade level teachers, the principal, specials area teachers, and specialists meet together to form class lists that are balanced in terms of academic, social, and emotional needs as well as considering student relationships. This is no easy task and often takes several collaborative discussions. Our dedicated team of educators considers each child’s personality, academic needs, friendship patterns, etc. as they make a recommendation for each individual child.  A draft of class lists is created while considering parent input.  

Class lists are then revised in August and changes are made to include students who move in or out of the district over the summer.  Please note that class rosters and teacher placement are never final until they are released to families in August.

Willow Grove staff creates the class lists for incoming 1st graders to all District 96 elementary schools.  

We strongly believe that this detailed and collaborative process creates learning environments that benefit all students. It is a delicate balancing act that takes much consideration and thought by professionals who know and care about your children. Our goal is to create balanced class lists that promote the success of each child. Please know that your child is placed in a classroom for very specific reasons. The process benefits all students.  Because of the input and thought given by teachers, specialists, parents, and the principal, we are very reluctant to make changes once this process occurs, as removing or moving one child can disrupt the balance of an entire class, impacting all students.

I welcome any insight you wish to share about your child’s strengths, needs, and learning style. I will take into consideration pertinent information received on or before FRIDAY, APRIL 24th.  Please remember, while we welcome your input, specific teacher requests will not be honored.

I cannot express enough how important it is that your thoughts are provided through the 2020-21 First Grade Parent Class Placement Input Survey.  As you can imagine, we receive a lot of parent input, and verbal information is impossible to track.  The information you provide in the survey will remain confidential.



iPad Cleaning

As you are aware, your child has his/her iPad to access for remote learning activities while we are closed.  Here are steps to keep them clean:

  • Power down the iPad
  • Wipe with a lint-free dry cloth
  • Never apply liquids or moisture into openings of the device
  • Never use compressed air or cleaning products
  • 70% isopropyl alcohol + a microfiber cloth may be used to clean the surface of the device

For additional resources related to other devices (laptops, iPhones, etc) please refer to Apple’s official knowledge base article.

Coronavirus Information

See Coronavirus information and guidance linked from the homepage of our District website.

PTO Update

Take a moment to read the BLOG this week.