March 15 Letter from Dr. Wade: Learning and Operations Update

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NOTE: Superintendent Dr. Nicolas D. Wade sent the following letter to the District 401 community on March 15, 2020. To translate the letter into a foreign language, go to the top right corner of this page where the Google Translate button (titled "Select Language") is located, and choose from the menu of available languages. Links to all of Dr. Wade's letters and other District 401 COVID-19 communications can be found at our Update Center.


To: All Stakeholders of Elmwood Park Community Unit School District 401
Re: Update to District 401 Learning and Operations

Elmwood Park CUSD 401 has created an "Update Center" on its website to provide all relevant information and updates related to the District's operations and learning during the coronavirus epidemic. You can access the Update Center here. As you can see, we will be leaving all information and messaging that has been sent out to District 401 stakeholders in reverse chronological order. Having this Update Center also does not put the added stress of requiring individuals to sift through inboxes or text messages to access the information when needed. All links embedded in each document are and will continue to be active for all individuals.

I do want to take this time to let the students, parents and community know how much our talented staff are invested in providing a continuity of learning opportunities for students. When it was being communicated to them the steps that would need to be taken for the health and safety of our students, the community and themselves, they were extraordinarily collaborative and constructive in moving forward to provide a learning opportunity to all students given these extreme circumstances. I have expressed my profound gratitude for their exceptionalism and professionalism to them, but I also wanted the other stakeholders of District 401 to be aware.


Closures


Governor Pritzker announced Friday afternoon an executive order that would issue a statewide mandatory school closing from March 17 through March 30. On Friday, when District 401 made the decision to close schools to help prevent community transmission of the coronavirus, it was decided to close schools through this week and reevaluate for a potential return on March 30. With this executive order, school would resume, potentially, on Tuesday, March 31.

The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) said that while the governor and ISBE are monitoring the situation daily, they are stressing that schools should plan for closures to go past March 30.


Electronic Devices


Students in grades 3-6 were given a device to take home on Friday. The parents or guardians of those who were absent on Friday received an email informing them they can pick up the device on Monday at Door 1 of Elmwood Park High School between 10 a.m. and noon. If you are a parent or guardian of an absent student in grades 3-6 and did not receive an email, please take this opportunity to update your information in PowerSchool.

The District is discussing potentially having windows of time where students could obtain missing equipment, turn in a damaged device or deal with technical issues. The District will provide further information when and if this becomes available.

If your student requires support for their Chromebook, they should email the following address and provide a description of what is happening:

Every effort will be made to provide remote email support.


Comcast


Please click here for a program from Comcast to assist low-income families as more and more districts shift to e-learning.

Comcast has also announced that their hotspots connected to commercial and some residential routers are being opened up for free access, potentially allowing students to be able to access free Wi-Fi. It is possible that, within range, a student may be able to connect to “xfinitywifi” without an Xfinity account.


E-Learning Days


Assignments will be posted by 9 a.m. each day on Google Classroom (grades 3-12) or SeeSaw (grades K-2). Directions to log onto Google Classroom can be found here and for SeeSaw here. Attendance will be taken based on efforts made on assigned work, turned-in work, assessments or interaction online. Attendance will be taken by 3 p.m. on each E-Learning Day. Teachers and administrators are available to respond electronically during an E-Learning Day.

The online curriculum programs can be accessed here. The following links can provide access to the frequently asked questions related to e-learning: students, parents and staff.

Since March 17 is a non-attendance day, there will be no e-learning.

As we navigate through this new learning experience, please allow some flexibility as all stakeholders become familiar with the process and overall experience of e-learning. All of us will be looking forward to your feedback on how this e-learning process is for students, and feedback in real time would be of assistance for us to more proactively address areas for growth to refine the experience. Facets of e-learning that are working well can also be communicated.


Students with an Individualized Education Plan (IEP)


Per ISBE, the governor's executive order does not stop the process in holding meetings. ISBE suggested these meetings can continue through teleconferencing and should be scheduled and held with all members of the IEP team. If you have an IEP meeting already scheduled between March 16 and 30, the Special Education Coordinator will be reaching out to you to give you the conference call information so that the meeting can be held as scheduled.

ISBE is working on drafting additional guidance documentation about how the District can provide services. This guidance documentation also extends to those who are outplaced with facilities closing to prevent community transmission.


Breakfast and Lunch Program


For those who qualify under the Free and Reduced Lunch Program, the District is working with its provider, Aramark, on how breakfast and lunch can be given to students. Additional information will be communicated shortly.


Students Attending the Technical Center for DuPage and Triton College


Both locations have also moved to e-learning and will be communicating to their students expectations and processes. If there are additional questions, please forward them to Mr. Douglas Wildes, Elmwood Park High School Principal, at wildesd@epcusd401.org.


Extracurricular Activities and Events


There will be no interscholastic activities, practices, games and/or events on Elmwood Park CUSD 401 property through March 30, 2020. Closer to March 30, the District will reevaluate its position.

The Illinois High School Association (IHSA) is a separate entity from ISBE, and it is unknown at this time if there will be a full or partial spring season.


Testing


ISBE is working to change its state testing windows for the Illinois Assessment for Readiness and the PSAT. It has been inquired about the impact on Advanced Placement testing, and ISBE is working on that with the College Board as well.

The middle and high school graduation dates have been set, and there is no plan, at this time, to change them.

There are no plans, at this time, to adjust the current school-year calendar because of the District’s pursuit of e-learning. It is being looked into potentially changing the school year calendar for 2020-21 pending updated timelines involving the construction project at Elm Middle School due to the coronavirus.

School- or District-sponsored events held off site have been canceled through March. Anything scheduled in April will be reevaluated by the District as the dates approach.


Field Trips and Out-of-State Trips or Competitions


Approved field trips through March are canceled. If a deposit was made or the field trip was already paid for by students, the District will provide reimbursement.

Trips or competitions held out of state through March have been canceled. If a deposit was made or the trip or competition was already paid for by students, the District will provide reimbursement.

Anything scheduled in April will be reevaluated by the District as the dates approach.


Building or Facility Access


There will be no building or facility use by outside groups or organizations through March 30, 2020. Closer to March 30, the District will reevaluate its position.

When school is canceled, there is no access to the buildings. Only a select number of employees are able to access the buildings when necessary.

However, per ISBE, John Mills Elementary School, Elmwood Elementary School and Elm Middle School will still be polling places on March 17, 2020.


Thank You to Our Community


I would like to take this time to thank all of you for your understanding and flexibility during this time. The District continues to be committed to providing learning and resources while these extreme events unfold around us. This all could not have been done without all of the stakeholders' support and understanding.

Sincerely,

Dr. Nicolas D. Wade
Superintendent of Schools


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