August 27, 2020: Return to School – Update:
Remember, tomorrow is an eLearning Day – Smart Start!
- We have had ONE (1) known positive case among our student body/staff since we started Aug. 21st
- Districtwide notification was sent (8/26) and the situation was handled in accordance with our Return to School Plan and IDPH COVID-19 Exclusion Guidance
- Various students/staff have gone/stayed home with COVID-19-like symptoms and have followed protocol (e.g. alternate diagnosis and/or negative COVID-19 test) for a safe return to school/work
- IDPH COVID-19 Exclusion Guidance helps clarify how such decisions are being made
- Our Week 1 Readiness Metrics indicate that we are currently NOT READY for a full-day schedule
- A decision to extend our ED‘e’ Half Day period beyond Sept. 8th will be made on Sept. 3rd
- Our Readiness Metrics are a critical element of our Smart Start approach and used to include and amplify the voices of our Teachers and Staff across a 2-week period
- Our staff remain committed to providing a safe learning environment while balancing the wide range of needs across our entire school community
- The CDC webpage, Operating Schools During COVID, was updated on Aug 21st and provides a range of strategies for schools to employ that align the actions we are taking with the current, county-level Community Spread of COVID-19 (minimal to moderate transmission in DuPage)
- Stay home if you are sick & be mindful of the 3W’s: Wash hands-Wear a mask-Watch your distance
- Be sure to visit our Return to School webpage for reference materials related to our reopening plan
- Public health conditions and guidance may change and could cause a change to our plan
I do recognize that my Community Updates have been more focused on in-person learning and procedures for a number of weeks now. That does not mean that our eLearners are in any way less important or not being focused on. Every – Single – Student is important to us and I continue to ask for your patience and grace on behalf of our staff who are working hard to make something happen with close to no prior experience. And that holds true for our in-person program too. Exactly zero teachers in Gower have taught under these conditions before. They have been doing it for five days now. Exactly zero teachers in Gower have taught in-person and remote classes simultaneously before. They have been doing that now for five days as well. Progress over perfection is our reality.
COVID-19 has relegated everyone on staff to novice status. Despite the wealth of experience our staff – including me – has gained over the course of years and in some cases decades of service, are new at this. Being a novice in anything can be frustrating and overwhelming for everyone involved. It can bring a sense of hopelessness and an urge to quit. But there is another side. Novice status invites an eagerness to try. To see things differently and to discover new paths. The words resilience and grit get thrown around a lot in education these days and COVID-19 is forcing all of us to translate these words into action at the community level. I can’t say this enough, and the recent statewide rules related to mask-wearing while dining out is yet another reminder – Community Problems Require Community Solutions.
I’m not one to look for excuses or give them. I see the word ‘fail’ as the First Attempt In Learning. We have high expectations in Gower. And having high expectations comes with pros and cons. Some pros: We are quick to offer our hand outward to help and do not throw them up in despair. We think outside of the box and try to find a way. Some cons: We are our own worst critics. We do not want to disappoint anyone. And we aim to get it all right the first time. From my view, we are getting there. I see heroes in action. Teachers and staff that understand the importance of what we are doing and working hard. Driving and riding our buses. Keeping our buildings clean and sanitized. Working in our classrooms. Balancing demands throughout the day to teach; to comfort; to connect; and to put out the small fires while remaining in-position to tackle the big ones. By far, the positive feedback and support from our Community has been overwhelming, and I am thankful for that. We all are. I am simply saying, ‘We hear you, and we will not stop trying to meet the wide range of needs across the Gower Community.’
With the Gower Greeting,
Superintendent of Schools