Remote Learning Update: May 15

Dear District 58 Staff and Families,

I hope this email finds you well and that you are staying healthy and safe. I would like to personally thank all of the staff members and families who recently completed the latest remote learning survey. Your feedback is appreciated and will be used to assist the District as it moves forward. This message is lengthy but contains several critical end-of-year updates. Thank you in advance for taking the time to read it.

End-of-Year Traditions and Student Material Pickup/Drop-off
The school year is quickly coming to a close, and the District is in the final preparations for celebrating end-of-the-year traditions and the pickup/drop-off of student materials. Principals have shared the tentative plans with staff today, and are working to finalize plans and details. Elementary families will receive information about building-specific procedures from their building principal by the end of the day on Tuesday, May 19. Middle school families will receive similar information on Monday, May 18. Once the plans are shared, families are encouraged to contact principals with any questions.

Student Devices over Summer Break
To support potential summer learning opportunities, District 58 will allow returning students who currently have a 1:1 device to keep a device over summer break. Students must be registered for the 2020-2021 school year by May 22 to keep their devices over the summer. Students in grade 6 will turn in their iPad, keyboard and charger, and be issued a middle school Chromebook at the above-mentioned student material pickup/drop-off. Any student who is turning in their iPad (all sixth-grade students and any elementary student not registered) should back up any needed content on their iPads by following the instructions linked here. These directions can also be found on student iPads. Each iPad has a home screen icon titled “iPad Backup.”

District 58 Summer School and Extended School Year
Due to the restrictions put in place by Gov. J.B. Pritzker and the DuPage County Health Department, District 58’s Summer School and Extended School Year (ESY) programs will take place remotely. While the District and families prefer on-site instruction, we are excited about the offerings that will be made available to our students this summer. These opportunities are available for those families who wish to register their child(ren) for additional summer instruction and those who are eligible for special needs support.  Families can click here for detailed registration information about both summer programs as well as procedures to request a refund for previous registration if no longer interested. 

Free Meals for District 58 Children in Need
District 58 remains committed to helping families in need during this difficult time. The District will continue partnering with Community High School District 99 and Woodridge School District 68 to feed children via the Wood-Grove Feeding Our Future Cooperative. To date, District 58 has provided 18,621 meals to children in need. We thank the many meal providers who helped make this critical program possible! If you would like to thank our school meal heroes as well, please send Manager of Business Services Katie Hannigan a “thank you” email by Friday, May 22. She will compile all thank yous and share with the meal providers. This program is ongoing and if you’d like to participate, click here for locations. As a reminder, any child age 0-18  is eligible to receive meals.

Education Foundation: D58 Family Support Fund
The Education Foundation of Downers Grove District 58 has established the D58 Family Support Fund to assist District 58 families financially-affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. This fund will accept community donations, which will be used to purchase gift cards from local businesses to provide local families in need with food and basic needs. If you are interested in contributing to the fund, click here. The Foundation has also created a promotional video to further explain the fund. The District truly appreciates the support of the Foundation and would like to thank in advance any staff and families who are able to make a donation.

Staff and Family Appreciation
Last week was Staff Appreciation Week in District 58. On behalf of the Board of Education, I would like to thank the entire District 58 staff for their hard work and dedication. Additionally, I would like to thank the parents and guardians of District 58. You have been thrust into converting your homes into classrooms.  We know how hard it is to work and teach from home, and your hard work and dedication teaching your children has not gone unnoticed and we appreciate all that you do! 

Planning for the Future
Moving forward, I am aware that many in our community have questions about whether schools will be open in the fall. Please know that no final decisions have been made. However, District 58 is actively planning for three scenarios. First, the preferred scenario is that we open schools in the normal fashion. I continue to strongly advocate for this scenario as long as it is safe to do so. The second is a hybrid scenario where schools open on a modified schedule with social distance precautions taken. Finally, the third scenario is remote learning from home. Gov. Pritzker has stated that local health departments must give the all clear to fully resume in-person instruction. All DuPage County superintendents are now virtually meeting weekly with one another, the DuPage County Regional Office Superintendent Dr. Darlene Ruscitti, and the DuPage County Health Department to discuss current plans. Plans will continue to evolve over the summer, and we are grateful for the staff and parent feedback received to help shape this process. The unknown makes this very stressful for all involved and we will continue to keep families in the loop. 

We have appreciated receiving feedback from students, staff and families via our remote learning surveys this past week. While we hope learning will resume as normal in the fall, the District has begun preparing for the possibility of continued remote learning. A big part of the preparation will be bringing stakeholders together (virtually) to offer input and come to consensus. To accomplish this, the District will form a Remote Learning Task Force consisting of staff members and parents from our existing councils. The Task Force will be charged with making recommendations on remote learning, a hybrid scenario of on-site and remote learning, and the transition back to on-site instruction (more information about this group will be sent out later this month). It is important that we hear from our teachers and families about their remote learning experiences so we can all improve. All groups want school to resume as normal, and no one wants on-site instruction to resume more than me. The current situation is extremely taxing on all involved. We will work together as a community over the next several months to be proactive and plan for the three scenarios laid out above. The bottom line is that we all want what is best for our students, and I am confident that we will continue to make improvements moving forward. Thank you once again for your partnership. We are all in this together.

Sincerely,

Dr. Kevin Russell
Superintendent of Schools