River Forest’s District 90 unveiled a comprehensive plan last week to assist students’ transitions to the 2020-21 school year amidst the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The purpose of the Comprehensive Transition Plan (CTP) is “to guide planning and set direction for the shift back to in person instruction from remote learning.” The guidelines are divided into three time-oriented sections: near-term (Spring 2020), mid-term (Summer 2020), and long-term (August-early Winter 2020). The plan is designed to be remediable and flexible due to the possibility of complications due to the pandemic. 

Key considerations of the CTP include: prioritization of timely and accurate communication between staff and families; provision and maintenance of iPads and internet access for students and staff; ensuring healthy meals for students who need them; focus on quality instruction; and care for social and emotional well-being.

The short-term section of the CTP provides outlines for the conclusion of the current academic year.

Notably, the CTP declares that all District 90 students will be promoted to the next grade, regardless of formal grade performance. However, students will still be expected to complete essential assignments, and will have numerous opportunities to re-do missed work, including in the fall if necessary. Middle school students’ GPAs will be frozen during the online learning period.

Teaching instruction during this time will focus on “emphasis and reinforcement of previously learned content and introduction of essential standards.” Upon students’ return to school, instruction will focus on remediating gaps in learning which may have arisen during the online period. 

Outside of district-wide events, individual schools will make decisions on spring events and activities, potentially in accordance with school PTO organizations. District-wide events, such as the honoring of retirees and service awardees, are being examined on a case by case basis, as opposed to a blanket decision on all events. 

Eighth grade graduation ceremonies will be replaced with a virtual ceremony video featuring photo montages of each graduate. Students will be provided with caps and gowns ahead of time, so that families can provide photos of graduates in proper attire for the video, which will be distributed for viewing by students, families, and extended family members.

No cost lunch services have also been made available to all families, rather than continue on a need-based foundation. The CTP states that current subscription levels sit at about double the usual rate of students. The lunch packages, assembled by the Food Services Department at OPRF High School, are delivered to families on a weekly basis. 

A process is being formalized for students to obtain belongings that were left in schools. Families will be notified once the process is finalized, which the CTP estimates will be in late May. 

Student class placement for the upcoming year is also still being examined. The CTP says teacher feedback and student assessment data will be used, and that families can reach out with their own input on student classroom needs prior to final placements. As with the belongings pick up process, more information will be provided to families when available. 

Finally, provisions for social and emotional needs of students and families are a main priority of the CTP. Communications with teachers and social worker services are available to provide for a wide range of issues. Students and families can also find extensive, age appropriate social and emotional resources on the “Remote Learning and Coronavirus Update Center” page at www.district90.org. 

The mid-term and long-term sections of the plan focus on issues such as virtual summer school programming and necessary adjustments that will be required for students returning to school. However, these sections are designed with the understanding that pandemic related complications are likely to arise. All portions of the plan are designed to be flexible and adjustable if necessary. 

In the case of online learning being required in the fall, a Remote Learning Action Team will be formed to evaluate and improve the existing online learning plan. In the meantime, the full Comprehensive Transition Plan is publicly available for view by students and families at the District 90 website.

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