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Update Center

Coronavirus (COVID-19) information

Craig Gwaltney

Superintendent

July 24, 2020

Update on 2020-2021 School Opening July 30, 2020

July 30, 2020

Dear Parents, Guardians and Staff,

During the Special Meeting of the District 126 Board of Education on Wednesday, July 29th, the Board voted to begin the 2020-2021 school year in a full remote-learning format, and postpone the option for hybrid learning temporarily. The Board of Education will regularly reevaluate the learning options for students based upon the status of the pandemic. The target date for reevaluating the full remote learning plan is scheduled for October 5th. At that time, the School Board will determine whether students will continue in a full remote learning model or transition into a hybrid/remote learning option. As always, our utmost concern is the health and safety of District 126 students, staff, and community. We understand that no decision or plan is perfect, and this decision was a very difficult decision.

Thank you for participating in the surveys and providing so many great questions. The information provided is very important and we have taken your thoughts under consideration.

Remote learning this fall will be more robust and very different from the emergency remote learning students participated in last spring. As much as possible, our goal is to mirror our regular classroom instruction, including in-person learning with teachers teaching remotely throughout the regular school day from their classrooms. More specific information including daily schedules, student material distribution and an update to our FAQ document will continue to be updated in the coming weeks.

The District 126 School Board also approved an amended 2020-2021 school calendar. Students’ first day of school is Monday, August 31st. Students will begin their remote instruction on this day. The amended calendar is to allow additional time during the week of August 24th for teacher and staff preparation for remote learning. As we prepare for the start of the new school year, please remember to register your child(ren) for the 2020-2021 school year.

Attached to this email are the public questions and answers that were submitted prior to last night’s Special Board Meeting.

If you have any questions, please continue to reach out to our District 126 Administrative Team. We thank all our stakeholders for your support, ideas, and patience during this unprecedented time.

Sincerely,

Craig Gwaltney
Superintendent
 

 

July 14, 2020

Survey Response Letter July 2020

July 2020
 
Dear District 126 Families,
 
 
I want to begin by offering my sincere thanks to all of our students, staff, parents, and community members who through extraordinary efforts and unselfish behavior helped us succeed over the course of the last few months.  While certainly not without our bumps, frustrations, and anxiety, we are now at a point in our journey that we are creating a new path for teaching and learning for this fall.  
 
District 126 continues to plan for a safe return to school for our students and staff. 
 
Please know we do not have a final plan at this time. We are still looking at several options and will be asking for more feedback from you. Yes that means more surveys and conversations. I want to thank those of you that have reached out through phone calls or emails. These conversations are invaluable for us creating the best plan for all moving forward. Please don’t hesitate to reach out so we continue these productive and positive communications. 
 
Below is an overview of our recent parent survey results regarding the return to school. 
 
What We Learned from the Surveys
We had 843 families respond to the return to school parent survey. 
 
How would you rate your comfort level about your child returning to school in person in the fall?

One obstacle in opening schools is the ability to follow social distancing guidelines on the school bus. With limited space and limited number of busses, would you be able to transport your child to and from school each day?

While District 126 is doing everything it can to ensure our schools can safely reopen in the fall, if given a choice, what form of learning would you prefer for your child?

 

In order to accommodate social distancing, one model that the state has made as an option is the Hybrid Model. This model would have students attend in person learning at school for a reduced amount of time and work remotely from home other times. Would this type of learning model work for your family?

Four collective concerns clearly emerged from the survey’s comments:
●       Concerns about students wearing masks
●       Insistence on thorough cleaning protocols
●       Remote learning needs to be more robust than in the spring
●       Questions regarding a blended model schedule specifics
 

District 126 will be working with the park district and the after school program, Ivy League, to provide support and care to families that need it when their students’ are in school.

Our instruction in the blended model and remote learning model will be different than the instruction students received last spring due to the mandated school closures. It will closely mirror in-person instruction.  Please understand that we all need to be flexible and patient as our plans continue to be discussed.  Our plans may change as we continue to receive updated guidance from state and local health authorities. We are also aware of a spike in COVID-19 cases in some areas of our country.  Any number of events may cause us to change approaches, but District 126 is doing everything possible to provide a sound educational environment for our students while following CDC guidelines to ensure we are taking necessary steps to keep our students and faculty healthy and safe.
 
Thank you for your continued support and input.  Continue to look for more communications over the next few weeks.
 
Sincerely,
 
Craig Gwaltney, Superintendent

 

July 8, 2020

District 126 Reopening Guidelines

July 8, 2020

 

Dear District 126 Families,

I hope this email finds you and your families well.  Using the guidance from The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) we are planning for the safe reopening schools for the 2020-2021 school year. 

Under these less than ideal circumstances, the school district continues to work as quickly as possible to determine how best to implement the state's ever-changing guidance based on our own set of specific circumstances.   

At this time, we are offering families the choice of two different instructional models for the 2020-2021 school year. Parents must read our District 126 Reopening Guidance to be able to make an informed decision for each of your District 126 students. After reading, please take a few moments to fill out a short parent survey choosing the option you are committing to for the 2020-2021 school year.  Please understand The District 126 Reopening Guidance is subject to change based on guidance from the state.  

We ask that you please respond to this survey by Monday, July 13, 2020.  The survey can be found by clicking on the following link: https://forms.gle/ApJkNE6x3mD2F8qM9

Thank you for your continued support and patience.

Stay well,

Craig Gwaltney

Superintendent of Schools

June 26, 2020

School Reopening Update

School Reopening Update

 

District 126 families have been asked to complete a short survey,  The feedback will assist with the planning process for reopening school in the fall. Families are asked to complete the survey by July 1st.
 
 
This week, the Illinois State Board of Education released Phase 4 Guidance for safely reopening schools in the fall.  The guidance provides recommendations for how school districts can follow the Illinois Department of Public Health's mandated safety precautions.  These safety precautions must be implemented for in-person instruction to resume.  The requirements include:
Face coverings for all staff and students
No more than 50 individuals gathering in one space including school buses
6 feet social distancing as much as possible
Symptom screenings and temperature checks or self-certification prior to entering schools 
Increased school-wide cleaning and disinfecting
 
Additional guidance specifically addressing remote learning is expected in the coming weeks.  
District 126 is reviewing the current guidelines and developing plans to resume school safely in accordance with the required state safety precautions. Several learning models are being considered, all of which present challenges. We are working diligently to finalize reopening plans so families have appropriate time to plan accordingly.  We ask for your patience as this will take some time to iron out all the details to ensure the health and safety of our students and staff. District 126 will continue to keep our families informed throughout the summer. 

 

June 24, 2020

Superintendent Update Regarding School Opening

June 24, 2020

Dear District 126 Families, Staff and Community,

I hope this message finds you and your families safe and well. Today, the Illinois State Board of Education released guidance for schools on the 2020-21 school year.

This 60-page document has been much anticipated and will go a long way toward answering critical questions all of us share about what the 2020-21 school year will look like in terms of in-person learning, scheduling, transportation, wearing masks, social distancing and other measures intended to keep everyone safe and healthy, while also re-engaging students in the learning process.

Right now, we don’t have all the answers to those questions as this document was released to school districts at the same time it was released to the public. Therefore, we kindly ask for your patience as our staff thoroughly reviews this detailed guidance and implements the suggestions into our district’s own transition plan.

The District is very aware of the urgent need to communicate to families about what to expect next school year and anticipate releasing our own transition plan in the coming weeks.

The district will be forming transition teams and has already been discussing options. This guidance will accelerate those conversations, and I’m confident our district can put forth a plan that prioritizes the health and safety of our students while maintaining a dynamic learning environment.

Thank you again for your patience, understanding, and flexibility as our entire district navigated a situation together that none of us could have imagined. I will be in touch soon. In the meantime, stay safe and enjoy your summer.

Sincerely,

Craig Gwaltney Superintendent

May 5, 2020

e-Learning Parent Survey

Good afternoon,

Please take a moment and complete the parent survey intended to help us better serve our students through e-Learning.  We will be collecting responses through next Friday, May 15th.

Because we know there are many factors that can impact student learning at home and our amazing staff has been forced to navigate a digital instructional format for students, the survey is intended to help us better understand some of the learning at home success and challenges. 

As always, District 126 appreciates all of the support our wonderful families continue to provide.

Be safe and stay healthy. We miss you!

e-Learning Parent Survey

 

April 30, 2020

District 126 will continue distributing meals to students through May

Good afternoon District 126 families. 

School District 126 will continue providing meals to our families throughout the month of May. Distribution will continue on Mondays and Thursdays from 10:30 - 12:30 at Lane School.  The school district is closed on Memorial Day. Because of this, meal distribution will be held on Tuesday and Thursday the week of May 25th.  

The May dates for meals are:

May 4 (Monday) and May 7 (Thursday)

May 11 (Monday) and May 14 (Thursday)

May 18 (Monday) and May 21 (Thursday)

May 26 (Tuesday) and May 28 (Thursday)

We hope that you and your loved ones are doing well during this time. Have a good evening. 

April 24, 2020

First day of our Spring Break

Good afternoon,
 
Today is the first day of our Spring Break and so many plans have had to be changed due to the COVID-19 outbreak.  No one certainly planned for this type of Spring Break! While there are no E-Learning activities scheduled this week, we know that this is a trying time and parents are at home looking for ways to keep their children engaged.  As a mom of three children, I'm certainly looking for ways to keep my own children engaged and off of YouTube videos, social media, Mindcraft, Fortnite, and other video games for their entire Spring Break while at home. I thought I would share two resources listing various free activities for families! 

The South Cook Regional Education Center in Chicago Heights created a list of activities and resources.  Click here to view their resources. 

Common Sense Media has also created a list of free activities ranging from drawing lessons to museum tours happening online. Check out their great online activities here. Their site will also be updated as new things are announced. 

Don't forget....the district will be distributing meals this week!

Tuesday, March 24, from 10:30 am - 12:30 pm at Lane School

Thursday, March 26, from 10:30 am - 12:30 pm at Lane School

Stay well and be safe.

Lori Connolly

 

April 17, 2020

Superintendent’s Message School Closing Update

April 17, 2020 
 
Dear Parents and Community Members: 
 
I hope this message finds you and your families safe and well. Today, Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker announced that remote learning in Illinois will be extended through the end of the 2019-20 school year. 
 
Although in-person learning has been suspended for the remainder of the year, at District 126, I assure you our entire staff remains committed to learning and engaging with all students through remote learning, as well as continuing with our food distribution program. 
 
Like you, we are saddened by the reality that our school community will not be able to reconvene in person this school year due to this public health crisis. So many of you have worked so hard to learn and grow in both the classroom and in extracurricular activities that today’s announcement may feel like a step back. 
 
However, the final chapter of this school year hasn’t been written yet. These past few weeks have proven our school community is more resilient, more capable and more compassionate than maybe what we previously realized. I’m confident our collective strength will shine through during the remainder of the school year, and we will emerge even stronger. 
 
As this announcement about the end of the school year was just made by Governor Pritzker this afternoon, it will take us a few days to sort out the many details such as collecting student belongings, 8th grade promotion, etc.  Please be patient as we work as a district to get information to you in the next several weeks. Principals will be getting those communications out in the coming weeks.  
 
I know this is not the school year that any of us imagined, but I want to thank you for your patience and understanding as we have dealt with this unprecedented situation together. This period of remote learning offers us new ways to learn and grow, and out of this Pandemic, we will emerge stronger. Plans will be underway soon for the return to in-person learning next school year. 
 
It’s important we continue to work together and support our students, families and staff. I can't thank you enough for all that you are doing as we all work together through this.  
 
Sincerely,  
 Craig Gwaltney Superintendent 
 
 

April 4, 2020

District 126 will continue distributing meals to students through April

Good evening, 
 
District 126 will continue distributing meals to students throughout the month of April during this mandatory school closure. 
Each week, meals will be distributed on Mondays and Thursdays at Lane School from 10:30 - 12:30. 
 
Monday, April 6  and Thursday, April 9
Monday, April 13 and Thursday, April 16
Monday, April 20 and Thursday, April 23
Monday, April 27 and Thursday, April 30
Have a good weekend and please stay safe.

March 30, 2020

Information about the timeline for our school closure

Good afternoon 126 staff and families,
 
I wanted to send a quick update about the timeline for our school closure. This afternoon the Governor announced the extension of our school closures until at least April 30th.
 
District 126 school buildings will remain closed until at least May 1st. We will not reopen until we receive guidance from our health officials, Illinois State Board of Education, and the Governor. 
 
Remote learning days are in place and will remain in place during this time. These remote learning days will not need to be made up and will count towards our required number of school days. 
 
While our buildings are closed, school is not closed, they are just relocated. Learning wil continue. I will continue to send out updates from time to time as I receive new information. 
 
I appreciate all that you are doing to support our students and community in this very difficult time. 
 
Please stay safe and stay healthy! 
 
Sincerely,
 
Craig Gwaltney 
Superintendent 

March 29, 2020

Superintendent’s Message

Good evening 126 Staff and Families,  
 
I hope this email finds you well and that you are staying healthy and safe. The events of the last few weeks have been unprecedented. We have met this challenge head on and I would like to personally thank you all for pulling together for one another. The District has worked with staff and community members to ensure those in need continue to receive meals during this time. So far we have served almost 2500 meals. While our buildings have been closed, I am so proud of the work of our staff and students via e-learning.  
 
The State of Illinois has not given school districts any additional information as to when students will return. As of tonight at 6:00p.m., the closure is scheduled to go through April 7 with students returning April 8. While we all hope we can reopen our schools April 8, our students’ health and safety is our top priority, and the District is preparing for a possible/probable extended closure.  
 
On Friday night the State of Illinois issued new guidance for remote learning moving forward. We were one of the first Districts with an approved e-learning plan. These remote learning days will not need to be made up at the end of the school year as of now. With this new guidance, over break, we finalized a change to our plan. As many of you know we will be distributing student iPads to our K-2 students this week. Each school will arrange the time this week.
 
Starting the week of March 30th, Wednesdays will be scheduled as “Independent Student Learning Days”. This will enable teachers to plan, meet with administration and departments, grade student work, and record lessons.
 
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday will continue to be full school days with teachers accessible from 8:30-3:00. Lessons for Wednesday’s Independent Learning Days will be posted for students on Tuesday. They will have clear instructions for self-directed learning. Teachers will not be available for student inquiries on these days but principals will continue to be available. Each school will be sending out more information as well. 

Finally, I want to thank all of you that are working on the frontlines. Thank you to our first responders, doctors, nurses and all the medical professionals. Thank you to all of you working in our grocery stores and pharmacies. Thank you to all of our truck drivers and delivery services as well.  We appreciate everything you are doing for our community! Please stay safe and stay healthy!  
 
I would like to again thank you for your partnership during this difficult time. We are all in this together and I could not be more proud to lead District 126. Please stay safe and take care of one another.  

Sincerely,

Craig Gwaltney
Superintendent of Schools  

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11900 S Kostner Avenue
Alsip IL 60803
708.389.1900
708.396.3793 (fax)

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4600 W 123rd Street
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Alsip IL 60803
708.371.3080
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708.631.0490
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