Return to School Status Update, June 24, 2020
June 24, 2020
Dear Parents and Guardians:
Warren Township High School is actively planning for multiple school reopening scenarios for this fall. How the start of the school year will look depends largely on the direction we receive from the governor, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), and the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH). This direction will enable us to determine which scenarios are most likely and the necessary conditions for returning to in-person instruction.
We are currently analyzing very recent guidance from the state as well as anticipate receiving updated guidance throughout the summer. We will most likely not make a final determination on our reopening status until a few weeks prior to the start of school, as the guidance we receive may change based on the status of COVID-19 statewide.
To facilitate reopening either in person or remotely, the school district has established several Pandemic Preparedness Advisory committees to identify the operational, academic, support, and district-wide aspects of a return to school. The overarching focus of this work is ensuring all decisions made are focused on student, staff, and visitor wellness, as well as maximizing educational opportunities for our students. Although we look forward to the time when we will be able to welcome all our students back to WTHS, we are also working to further develop remote teaching strategies and skills with our staff over the summer in case eLearning is part of the upcoming school year.
We believe that ISBE will allow additional flexibility in our use of some blended remote learning days, which provides for the combination of remote learning and in-person instruction. This may give us the ability to consider bringing back students with greater needs, and/or creating a rotation of attendance days and eLearning days for students. Taking this path would allow us to limit the overall number of students gathering at our campuses on a given day, while still offering in-person learning. Having students re-engage with in-person learning to start the school year - particularly for those students with greatest need - to some degree has already been set by ISBE as an important goal for schools.
Necessary limits to the overall number of students gathering in our classrooms and other spaces on a given day is an example of one of several crucial enhanced public health requirements that schools must be accountable to when considering reopening logistics. ISBE will continue to provide future guidance to schools on other enhanced public health requirements, including, but not limited to, face coverings, personal protective equipment, capacity limits on school buses, social distancing, symptom screening, and school-wide cleaning and disinfecting. As WTHS receives this guidance, we will be able to more fully identify the extent to which, if at all, we can return to in-person instruction in conjunction with our eLearning platform.
We will be sending out these planning updates weekly beginning July 8. Thanks again for your ongoing flexibility and support as we work together to continue to prepare for the 2020-21 school year.
John P. Ahlgrim, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools