Dear District 58 Families,
Last night, the District 58 Board of Education voted to increase synchronous instructional time for all District 58 students in grades 1-8 this spring. They recommended this action after three hours of robust discussion. The Board’s recommendation was informed by the District’s priorities, the Instructional Planning Committees’ presentation, and the results from the recent instructional model survey that many community members completed. You can view the presentation here, and view the entire meeting video here.
Our priorities are:
- Maintaining the health and safety of students and staff: We will continue to follow the current guidance from the CDC, IDPH and DCHD.
- Considering what is best educationally for students: We believe increasing the instructional day will benefit students academically, socially and emotionally. We want to increase the time our students are learning, and we aim to make instruction as equitable as possible for all students -- onsite and full remote.
- Minimizing disruptions as much as possible: Family and staff survey results both expressed the desire to minimize disruptions. We will work hard to enhance our learning environments with the least amount of disruption.
Elementary Students (Grades 1-6):
Starting Wednesday, April 7 both onsite and full remote elementary (grade 1-6) students will attend synchronous learning from 8:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m., five days per week. Onsite students will eat a snack in their classroom, but this schedule will not include onsite lunch. All elementary students would participate in remote learning (either synchronous or asynchronous) from 2-3 p.m.
Starting Monday, May 3, synchronous instruction will increase again for elementary (grade 1-6) students. The goal is to make the May 3 increase resemble a typical school year’s full day schedule as closely as possible, with a lunch break included. However, the exact schedule for the May 3 transition has not been determined, and our ability to provide a full day of synchronous instruction will depend on several logistics, including hiring approximately six teachers and 134 lunch supervisors; determining creative classroom arrangements that adhere to all health and safety requirements with the least disruptions/teacher changes; and much more. The Board of Education has also asked the administration to investigate if the switch to a longer day in May can be accomplished sooner. The administration will report back to the Board at the March Board meetings as to whether this is possible.
Please note, all elementary start and end times are tentative and subject to change until final confirmation with our bus company and partner districts. Additionally, the administration will review the possibility of a staggered elementary school and middle school start.
Middle School Students (Grades 7-8):
Starting Wednesday, April 7, the middle school day will be lengthened to 8:30 a.m. to 2:25 p.m. Band, choir and orchestra will meet (on onsite days) from 2:30-3:05 p.m. This schedule adds five minutes to each class period, plus a 30-minute break for lunch. A lunch break will be built into the asynchronous day schedule as well. Based upon consistent feedback from families, staff and students, the District will not be increasing screen time on offsite days, and will explore potential reductions.
The existing alternating day synchronous middle school schedule will continue due to space constraints in our middle schools. Six feet of distance cannot be maintained if all onsite students attended school onsite daily; thus there was also not a recommendation to make a second increase on May 3 at the middle school level.
Please note, all middle school start and end times are tentative and subject to change until final confirmation with our bus company and partner districts. Additionally, the administration will review the possibility of a staggered elementary school and middle school start.
Kindergarten and Preschool Students
District 58’s kindergarten grade level will remain a half day instructional program. Session start and end times will be amended to align closely with the grade 1-6 schedule. The morning session will take place from 8:30-11 a.m., and afternoon kindergarten will occur at 12:30-3 p.m.
Please note, all kindergarten start and end times are tentative and subject to change until final confirmation with our bus company and partner districts.
Grove Children’s Preschool schedule will remain unchanged.
Tuesday, April 6 Change
Monday, April 5 is an existing No School Day in District 58. Tuesday, April 6 is Election Day, and schools are required to be used as polling places. School districts were just recently informed of this and have been directed that we must serve as polling places. Therefore, in-person learning cannot take place on that day. The administration recommended that Tuesday, April 6 will become a non-attendance day, which will extend the school year one day in June. This will allow polling to continue without an impact on students, and it will give our custodial staff sufficient time to sanitize any areas affected by the polls. In addition, staff who are impacted by the changes outlined above will be able to use this day to make final preparations for the transition.
Key Communication Dates
If you would like to change your child’s learning model for the remainder of the school year, we ask that you please contact your child’s principal (or, for preschool, program coordinator) by Wednesday, March 3. Changes would become effective on April 7. Please note: most elementary buildings are close to capacity in the new learning schedule. If a large number of families elect to return onsite, we may need to increase the number of teachers in buildings that have extra space, or, if there exists no additional space, we may need to offer a family onsite instruction in another District 58 school.
Schools will inform families regarding whether their child will experience a teacher and/or classroom change during the week of March 8. Additionally, if your child will experience any other type of expected or unexpected change due to this transition, your principal will promptly communicate with you.
Supporting Our Community Through Change
We will work tirelessly to support our students, staff and families to ensure a successful transition to increased synchronous learning time. We recognize that everyone would like to know what this means for their child(ren). Prior to finalizing class lists, we must confirm all learning model commitments. We will work through everything together and communicate the final plan as soon as we are able (after all of the instructional model decisions have been made). We aim to make these upcoming transitions as seamless as possible, but we also must be realistic. We estimate that approximately 22% of elementary students will experience a change in their homeroom teacher. Very few will experience a teacher change at the middle school level. We will also maximize every learning space in our elementary schools to ensure we can teach students while following all health and safety requirements. That means we will configure gyms, libraries and multi-purpose rooms into classrooms.
We have identified several ways to help ease the April 7 transition, particularly for students who will change teachers, including:
- Opportunities for students to meet their new teacher(s) and classmates in advance of the April 7 transition
- Communication with families regarding class assignments, new teacher/grade level team introductions, and childcare providers
- Supports and training/collaboration opportunities for affected staff
We realize this is a lot of information to absorb at this time, and we have a great deal of planning and logistics to work out in the coming weeks. Your teachers, principals, support staff and central administrators are committed to working with you to make these upcoming transitions a success. The past year has shown the resilience and dedication of our District 58 community. We recognize the sacrifices we have each made this year, and we further realize that these upcoming shifts will make even more demands of you. By working together, we hope we can make these changes go as smoothly as possible. We appreciate everything you are doing to support our students at this time, and we look forward to the day when we can return to a more “typical” learning environment.
Dr. Kevin Russell and the District 58 Administrative Team