March 13 Letter from Dr. Wade: School Closures and Shift to E-Learning

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NOTE: Superintendent Dr. Nicolas D. Wade sent the following letter to the District 401 community on March 13, 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: Student Learning and Operations During the Coronavirus Pandemic

As I write this letter to the stakeholders of our District during this health crisis, it is important to remind myself to do what is best for the health of not only the students and staff of District 401, but the greater community. While elected leaders, appointed officials and representatives of education groups continue to provide mixed messaging and a lack of critical and needed support, the crucial decision-making process has, once again, fallen upon school districts.

It has been communicated there should not be events of more than 250 people in attendance. The reality is that each of our schools has a minimum of that attendance each day we are in session.

What follows are a number of decisions concerning the school day, interscholastic activities and events, and general operations. I do wish to express gratitude to the leadership teams and memberships of each of the District's collective bargaining units, Dr. Mark Klaisner, Executive Director of the West 40 Intermediate Service Center, and the Village of Elmwood Park as preparations were made and next steps the District could take were discussed.

Nothing in this letter is easy, and I know this will bring about some mixed emotions and potential complications with some of our stakeholders. I want to continue to stress that the health and safety of the school system and the greater community is paramount, and I am hoping that more concrete and constructive direction and support will come to assist all of us in navigating through these challenging times.

School Closures

Elmwood Park CUSD 401 will be closed March 16-20, 2020. As a reminder, March 17 is a non-attendance day.

Shifting to E-Learning Days

Elmwood Park CUSD 401 will be having e-learning opportunities for all students when school is canceled due to matters related to the coronavirus. E-learning is when teachers will be communicating with students and parents through a digital platform to provide learning opportunities. This is authentic learning directly connected to our K-12 e-text curriculum offerings.

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. Teachers and administrators are available to respond electronically throughout the emergency day.

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.

For preschool, staff will send home meaningful activities aligned to the Illinois Early Learning Standards and will check in with parents/guardians and students via email, Google Classroom and/or SeeSaw.

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.


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

Extracurricular Activities and Events

There will be no interscholastic activities, practices, games and/or events on Elmwood Park CUSD 401 property through March 29, 2020. Closer to March 29, the District will reevaluate its position.

"Shrek" will still perform tonight but is canceled on Saturday and Sunday.

If the Illinois State Board of Education changes its state testing windows for the Illinois Assessment for Readiness and the PSAT, it will be communicated.

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. If there is limited participation from students in e-learning, this could affect the school day count for the District, leading to days needing to be added to the calendar.

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 will be 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 29, 2020. Closer to March 29, 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, John Mills Elementary School, Elmwood Elementary School and Elm Middle School will still be polling places on March 17, 2020. This is an Institute Day with no student attendance.


Dr. Nicolas D. Wade
Superintendent of Schools

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