Dear Huntley 158 Parents & Families,
To begin, I want to sincerely thank all of our families and students for their flexibility over the course of this week. As many schools experience a sense of upheaval and uncertainty, I am increasingly grateful for the support and kindness our students, families, and staff have afforded one another. I truly feel that it is more important than ever before to display care and respect to our fellow parents, classmates, colleagues, and residents of our community. I am also hopeful that we are poised to move education forward in responsible and realistic ways as we look towards the remainder of the 2021-22 school year. With that in mind, I’d like to share with you the Superintendent’s Report from last night’s Board of Education meeting. This presentation was shared with our board members yesterday evening in order to spark discussion about the ways in which our decision making processes regarding COVID-19 need to evolve in order to best serve students.
I invite you to access this presentation and my remarks to the Board in order to better understand Huntley 158’s proposed path forward. While our Board of Education did not take action on this plan at yesterday’s meeting, they will move to vote on this proposal as necessary at an upcoming meeting (March 3 and March 17) to prepare for the year ahead.
In the more immediate future, Huntley 158 will be making changes to our remote instruction practices for students who are in isolation to take effect on Monday, February 14. We would also like to clarify the practice of contact tracing in the wake of Sunday’s change. Please review the updates outlined below:
Clarification of Contact Tracing Practices
As of Monday, February 7, students and staff are no longer required to quarantine if they have been deemed a close contact to a positive case of COVID-19. However, the district will continue to perform contact tracing as a result of an identified case of COVID-19. We believe that this process is an important step in remaining transparent and giving our families all of the information necessary to monitor your child’s health and make decisions about their safety. No quarantine is necessary if you are notified by an administrator or school nurse that your child is a close contact; this will simply remain a part of our process in keeping our families informed and prioritizing our student’s safety.
Updated Remote Instruction Expectations During COVID-19 Isolation: Effective Monday, February 14, 2022
Over the past two years, the practice of remote instruction has taken a few different forms as the pandemic has required flexibility from our teachers and students. Now, as students in isolation are able to return to school earlier than before and quarantine procedures remain in a state of flux, we would like to share our updated expectations for staff and students if they are in a period of isolation due to COVID-19 (i.e. they have tested positive or are symptomatic).
Expectations for Elementary (K-5) Students in Isolation
In order to provide the best quality instruction to our students who are learning remotely and preserve the standard of in-person teaching from our staff, we have elected to transition some of our certified staff to focus solely on remote instruction for elementary students in isolation, while allowing our classroom teachers at the elementary level to prioritize their students in the classroom.
Instruction for students who are in isolation will consist of a daily check-in from a certified staff member and a mix of asynchronous and synchronous activities for Math, Literacy, Specials and SEL. This certified staff member will be one of the district’s K-5 Teachers on Special Assignment (TOSA) who provide instructional and curriculum support to our teaching staff on a regular basis. This staff member will provide a morning check-in, as well as live instruction time and relevant activities for students based on their building and grade level. A sample student schedule is below for our families’ reference:
SAMPLE STUDENT SCHEDULE:
|Math – Synchronous
|Specials – Asynchronous
|Literacy – Synchronous
|Choice boards for math, literacy, and SEL
Additionally, students in isolation who are too ill to participate in remote learning will not be required to attend in order to allow them to focus on being well enough to return to school. This means, as with any other student who may be out for consecutive school days, the classroom teacher will provide the support and materials necessary for them to get caught up upon their return to the classroom.
- At the Early Childhood Center a choice board of asynchronous activities will be provided for students; live Zoom instruction will no longer take place.
Expectations for Secondary (6-12) Students in Isolation
Using the same logic at the secondary level, students will continue to have the opportunity to engage in their learning while in isolation. The evolution of this engagement will consist of synchronous and asynchronous learning experiences at the teacher’s discretion, and based on what learning needs are present during the given timeframe. Shorter absences do not always require live instructional engagement, and teachers will support any learning recovery upon return when a live Zoom session alongside in-person classmates isn’t necessary. Some teachers may wish to have students Zoom into the classroom for live instruction and will communicate their expectations and necessary materials with students course by course.
Special Education Considerations
Students receiving support from related service providers and special education teachers will have opportunities to receive direct support dependent upon their abilities to participate in virtual options during their isolation periods. Related services providers and special education teachers may choose to provide direct support within the same service delivery model utilized with the student in the school setting via Zoom and/or make modifications, such as individual check-ins with assigned follow up activities that allow the student to work on specific goals.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Who is eligible for remote learning? Students who are required to be absent from school due to a period of isolation, provided they feel well enough to do so, may participate in remote learning.
- What if my child is too ill to participate in remote learning? Having your child in-person with us at school is one of our top priorities, so if your child needs the time to heal, please do not feel pressured to have them access remote learning if they are not able to. All work missed can be made up upon returning to school if a student elects not to engage in remote learning while in isolation.
- NOTE: A parent/guardian must call into the attendance line and excuse your child from school if they are unable to attend class via Zoom. The student’s attendance will be changed to Excused by Parent (EXP) so staff know if they should expect the student to attend class via zoom.
- How long does remote learning occur? The opportunity for remote learning will be provided through the necessary period of isolation until your child is able to return to school. If your child is well enough to participate in remote learning via Zoom or daily check-ins and instruction, they should return to school when their period of isolation has expired. Your child’s school will communicate the return date to you.
- What materials will my child need at home for remote learning? Students should be able to complete remote learning requirements using materials that can be found at home, via apps on their Chromebook, and Otus.
- What if my child is out sick for a non-COVID related illness or reason? We know that other illnesses are still present and may mean that students cannot attend school for reasons unrelated to COVID-19. Those absences will follow the normal absence procedure; students do not qualify for remote learning at this point.
As our district works to bridge the gap between changing school exclusion guidelines, the evolution of COVID-19, and high quality instruction for all of our students, we know that our ability to adapt and remain flexible is an important element of our success. While our modes of instruction are often still dictated by the changing nature of this pandemic, we see this change in our practice as a way to elevate our instructional approach, ease the burden on our staff, and find ways to improve how we use the resources available to us without reducing the connection to learning for our students who are excluded from school, but are healthy enough to engage in learning. If you have any questions about your child’s opportunities for instruction, please reach out to your building principal.
Thank you for your flexibility. We are hopeful that this evolution of our practices will help our staff provide the most effective and appropriate instruction for all of our students.
Scott Rowe, Ed.D.