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November 20, 2020

DOLTON WEST 148 BOARD TO CONSIDER REMOTE LEARNING THROUGH SPRING BREAK

On Tuesday, November 24, 2020, I will deliver to our Board of Education my recommendation that Dolton West School District 148 continue to implement remote learning for all students and staff through Spring Break of the 2020-2021 school year, April 12, 2021. Under this approach, students will continue to participate in teacher-led online lessons five days a week using a computer and home internet access provided by the District at no cost to families. Our plan will be to revisit this decision and make a recommendation for the remainder of the school year at our Board of Education meeting on Tuesday, February 23, 2021.

WHY I AM MAKING THIS RECOMMENDATION

We all want our students, teachers and staff back in our schools and classrooms as soon as it is safe to do so, but must continue to balance two key priorities:

  • First, the safety, health and well-being of all members of the Dolton West 148 community, particularly our students, teachers, staff and the families they go home to.
  • Second and equally important, a commitment to delivering a quality education that challenges and supports each student in reaching their highest level of performance.

As been widely publicized by public health officials, COVID testing and hospitalization rates in the south suburban region are at peak levels and continuing to rise, potentially even eclipsing those we experienced in the spring when we first entered into remote learning. Even with our students, teachers, staff, families and communities following public health guidance to wear masks, maintain appropriate social distance and regularly wash their hands, the upcoming holiday season and winter weather put us all at increased risk as we spend more time inside together.

This fall, we have experienced strong student participation in remote learning. This is the result of our excellent teachers and dedicated parents working together to maintain open channels of communication in support of our students’ academic and social-emotional needs. I am pleased to share that a recent survey of parents following fall parent-teacher conferences yielded very positive feedback with a strong majority of parents indicating that they are well-informed about their children’s progress and next steps in their education. Our online classroom communities are positive and supportive places where students and teachers feel connected, all are welcomed and included, and additional supports and resources are provided as needed.

As a result, I am confident that we can continue to deliver a quality education with appropriate and necessary social-emotional supports in this next phase of remote learning.

ABOUT OUR PROPOSED REMOTE LEARNING PLAN THROUGH SPRING BREAK
Our teachers continue to participate in professional development activities to further enhance their skills and ability to deliver our curriculum remotely. Teachers will continue to be available to deliver instruction, support student learning
needs and to respond to parent inquiries Monday through Friday from 8:20 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. (grades K-6) or 8:20 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. (grades 7-8). Our proposed approach to remote learning through Spring Break will continue to include:

  • A traditional school-day structure with a minimum of five clock hours of daily instruction and/or coursework
  • Mandatory attendance
  • Grading and the use of baseline assessments to identify and inform strategies to address any learning loss or gaps in learning that may have occurred due to the disruption of the spring and/or fall semesters

In addition to our required coursework, we will continue to encourage our teachers to provide additional, optional enrichment opportunities to support our students’ academic skills and social-emotional health.

As we began remote learning this fall, our students in grade 2-8 already had District-provided laptops for use at home.
While global supply chain issues resulted in an initial delay in us getting Chromebook devices out to our pre-K, kindergarten and first grade students, they, too, are now up and running with minimal technical issues. All District 148 families have also been provided with internet hotspots that enable our students and families to get online at no cost. We have received very positive feedback about the quality and timeliness of the support provided by District teachers and staff to parents and students when technical issues have occurred. The District will continue to provide technical support as needed throughout this next phase of remote learning.

Through Spring Break, District 148 will continue to provide nutritional multi-pack meal service that consists of a week’s supply of breakfast, lunch and dinner. This service is available for pick up at all District 148 schools on Monday through Wednesday between the hours of 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. Soon, we will be piloting optional home delivery of meals to students at Riverdale and Washington Schools. If successful, we will expand this option to other schools in the coming weeks.

NEXT STEPS

The Board will vote on my recommendation to extend remote learning in District 148 through Spring Break (April 12, 2021) at its regular meeting to be held on Tuesday, November 24, 2020 at 5:00 p.m. Public participation is welcome. Information on how to participate in this virtual meeting is available at www.district148.net. Questions or comments can also be submitted via email to feedback@district148.net no later than Tuesday, November 24, 2020 by 12:00 p.m.

I am confident that the Board will make their best decision for our District. I will communicate with you again next week after the Board meeting with additional information. I want to assure you that my team and I are prepared to do everything we can to continue to deliver a great education, and to support the needs of our students, staff and families.

As always, thank you for your support of Dolton West School District 148, our students and staff.


Educationally yours

Dr. Kevin J. Nohelty
Superintendent of Schools