July 30, 2020: Return to School – Update
“We’re in this Together” means exactly that, and we appreciate your ongoing patience, feedback, and support. Your feedback on the ‘summary/bullet list’ format from last week’s Community Update was positive so we are taking it a step further this week to get right to the point. We know how much the Gower Community invests in our schools and want to be sure that we provide the information you need to make the best decision for your family.
Right to the Point:
- There have been no significant changes to our Return to School and Reopening Plan as previously shared
- Public health conditions and public health guidance may change and could cause a change to our plan
- Our Return to School Parent Preference Survey data, to date, indicates a 74% preference for in-person learning with close to 500 families sharing their preference for the start of the year (~85% completion)
- Gower West has an 88% completion rate (454/518 expected) with 72% indicating in-person
- Gower Middle has an 81% completion rate (301/373 expected) with 75% indicating in-person
- Our Return to School Parent Preference Survey remains open: Please complete the survey if you have not done so already. If your preference has changed, simply fill out a new survey.
- The ISBE Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document is helpful to understand the ‘how’ and ‘why’ behind our local Return to School and Reopening Plan
- A Gower School District Parent FAQ is expected to be included in our Community Update next week as we are grouping common questions from the virtual Lunch & Learns and ongoing feedback
- Our Smart Start calendar allows us to focus on and develop a sense of connectedness with all of our students
- The first nine (9) days of school are half-day In-Person/half-day eLearning (ED‘e’ Days or hybrid)
- District-wide eLearning half-days each Fri. (Aug. 28-Sept. 18); alternating Fri. (Sept. 25-Dec. 18)
- A final decision to transition to a full day schedule on Sept. 8th – or extend the ED‘e’ Days – will be made on Sept. 3rd in consultation and coordination with our local teachers’ union
- “…you can’t touch their minds until you touch their hearts” – is Gower’s easter egg/lasting contribution placed in the Fall 2020 Learning Recommendations from the Illinois State Board of Education (p. 76)
- Recent attention has been given to the recent joint statement from the Illinois Federation of Teachers and the Illinois Educators Association. I am pleased to share that our local union has been involved throughout the process and agree that our current approach abides by the safety measures outlined in official guidance
- We continue to receive questions about our eLearning plan. It is important to remember that the emphasis on the ‘e’ in our eLearning plan is for ‘engagement’.
- Our staff are working hard and planning for an eLearning experience that will ‘look and feel’ different than the abrupt transition in the spring (more synchronous and more interactive)
- Visit our Return to School webpage for reference materials and upcoming virtual Lunch & Learn login info.
- A Parent Checklist from the CDC has been added to help plan for the return to in-person learning
Our Smart Start approach allows our students, families, and staff to ramp up to the restart of school in Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois Plan and gives us the ability to make an informed decision about when to move to a Full Day. We understand that public health conditions and guidelines may change and could result in more restrictions (e.g. Split Schedule or Full Remote). If this occurs, changes to our plan will be recommended. We remain committed to working together to ensure that our plan is the best fit for our school community and ask that you continue reading our updates and newsletters and continue reaching out to us with your questions and concerns.
With the Gower Greeting,
Victor Simon III
Superintendent of Schools