District 401 to Start 2020-21 School Year with Remote Learning 2.0

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NOTE: Superintendent of Schools Dr. Leah Gauthier sent the following letter to the District 401 community on Aug. 6, 2020. To translate the letter into a language of your choice, go to the top right corner of this page where the Google Translate button ("Select Language") is located, and choose from the menu of available languages. Links to all of District 401's Remote Learning 2.0 communications can be found at our Fall Learning Plan update page.

To: Elmwood Park CUSD 401 Stakeholders
Re: Fall Learning Plan

During the Aug. 5, 2020, School Board Committee of the Whole meeting, our Fall Learning Plan was discussed. The Board of Education and District Office determined that the best path forward for our EPCUSD 401 community is Remote Learning 2.0.

A survey was shared following five live town hall sessions to gather feedback on what the Fall Learning Plan could look like. A total of 677 stakeholders responded to the survey. The goal of this survey was twofold: 1) to offer an additional avenue for stakeholders to communicate with the District on fall learning plans and 2) to determine the best format of communication and support needed for fall 2020.

In order to determine the best path forward we stayed focused on the following priorities:

  1. The health and safety of our students, staff and community
  2. A consistent plan for academic achievement

Based on our priorities and the survey feedback we received, the best path forward is to start our school year with remote instruction, with the hope that COVID-19 cases will decline, and we will later be able to move to a hybrid model. The safety of all families, students and staff drove this decision as well as the best option for a consistent education for our students. The plan is based on the best current information, but depending on local, state and national developments, revisions to this plan are possible. The District will be agile and adjust as necessary to provide quality instruction while protecting the health and safety of students and employees to the greatest extent possible. All updated information will be shared with all stakeholders as well as housed on our website.

There is a significant amount of planning required to implement the plan between now and the first day of school. Families can expect additional information from the District Office and local school sites up until the first day of school.

Starting on Aug. 31, 2020, all EPCUSD 401 students will participate in Remote Learning 2.0. The remote learning model in EPCUSD 401 will be improved compared to the remote learning in the spring. We will spend the next month and beyond working on making our online practices high-quality learning experiences that are consistent for all students. We are being given the opportunity to re-envision education in a way that works for all students. Current considerations for the Remote Learning 2.0 Plan include:

  • Instruction happens every day through the Remote Learning 2.0 model, both synchronous and asynchronous. ISBE guidance requires five hours of daily instruction with two and a half hours of live learning.
  • Remote Learning 2.0 will include high academic expectations and requirements for attendance, grading, live synchronous class sessions and assessments.
  • All students will have access to technology.
  • All students will have the necessary materials to be successful at home.
  • Clear communication is given for what is expected of all stakeholders.
  • Staff will be provided with ongoing professional development to ensure high-quality, grade-level appropriate lessons.
  • Provide ongoing training for our families to ensure all students can access the necessary platforms.
  • Administrators, main office staff, custodians and nurses will remain onsite following the safety protocol.
  • Teachers may access the building safely if they need to conduct a lesson from their classroom, access materials, and/or provide special education and/or screening services or EL screening.
  • Teachers who are unable to teach their classes from home will be expected to teach their lessons from their classroom in the District.

We will commit to Remote Learning 2.0 through winter break and will continue developing hybrid plans to prepare for an eventual safe return to onsite learning. Committing to Remote Learning 2.0 allows us to provide the safest environment for our students, staff and families.

I recognize that the decision to start the school year remotely will provide relief to some and unwelcome news to others. I, too, want to be back in school with everyone, but we must make our decisions that prioritize the health and safety of our students and staff, as well as our entire community. There is no perfect plan. No individual or group has all of the answers. Moving forward, collaboration will be key among all stakeholders, investing in the education of our children to provide an equitable learning experience this fall. I’m proud of the teachers, staff and administrators who are working hard to build plans that prioritize safety and academic achievement. Working together we can provide the best education for our students in these uncharted times.


Dr. Leah Gauthier
Superintendent of Schools

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