Community Memo Dec 14th 2020

Community Memo Dec 14th 2020
Posted on 12/15/2020

December 14, 2020

East Prairie Community,

I hope this memo finds you and your family staying healthy and doing well during this very difficult time. While the pandemic continues to take its toll on everyone, we remain ready and available to support you and your children. Please let us know if there is anything we can do to support your family.

We have stated emphatically since summer that we know students learn best here on campus with our wonderful East Prairie staff. We have also recognized that given the circumstances, all families should have the choice between in-person and remote learning whenever it is safe for in-person learning to occur at East Prairie. 

This evening I recommended to our Board of Education that we target January 19, 2021 as the first potential date for students in grades pre-kindergarten through fifth grade to return onsite for in-person learning or continue with remote learning. I also recommended that our Board-Parent (and Teacher) Subcommittee convene the week of January 4th to make a determination about the appropriate time to present the families of middle school students a choice of in-person or remote learning. The Board of Education supported these recommendations. 

From now through January 15, 2021 (excluding the non-attendance days over winter break), student learning will continue through remote learning. The targeted return date of Tuesday, January 19th was chosen for a number of reasons related to the health and safety of our students, staff, and community. One of the primary reasons was to allow families and staff who travel out of state over winter break the time to return home and safely quarantine prior to our first day of in-person learning. This timeline aligns with the health and safety recommendations of the Skokie Health Department and IDPH.

On Monday, January 4th, Dr. Schmeisser will be contacting families to seek a decision about in-person or remote learning. This information is essential for us to plan all of the details necessary to fully support our students. He will provide as much information as possible about the in-person and remote learning models, but we will need this parent choice data to finalize the models to meet the needs of all of our students.

At the most recent Board-Parent (and Teacher) subcommittee meeting, we analyzed the metrics and factors that most influence our ability to safely provide in-person learning. We have utilized metrics all year to guide our decisions and continue to rely on the totality of the information before us to guide our decisions. This is our East Prairie 73 Covid-19 Metrics table. On at least a weekly basis, East Prairie staff review the metrics in this table to evaluate the safety of in-person learning based on all of the factors outlined. Not every metric is of the same value, but all of the metrics help to inform our decisions. In addition to the information in this dashboard, East Prairie 73 monitors the trajectory of positive cases across these measures along with the successes and challenges in other districts with students who are learning in-person. Please be aware that all of our workplace considerations, including the ability to safely staff and support all students, cannot adequately be displayed in this document. East Prairie 73 continues to be guided by the recommendations of IDPH, as well as, the Cook County and Skokie Health Departments. 

We know that the responsibility for our continued success in maintaining in-person learning at this difficult time will be a shared one. We ask that everyone continue to follow all IDPH and CDC guidelines by frequently washing one’s hands, maintaining six feet social distance, wearing a face covering, and watching for COVID-19 symptoms and immediately notifying our school nurse when they occur.

Thank you again for your partnership in supporting our school community. We greatly appreciate everything you do for us. Be well.


Paul Goldberg