January 8, 2021
Dear Shorewood Families,
I hope you have had an opportunity to read the message sent earlier today about how the District is responding to local and national events that have occurred in recent days. In this time of reflection for all of us, I am both grateful and inspired to be part of a school district and a community dedicated to helping young people develop the skills they need to become leaders, innovators, active citizens and good neighbors.
Thank you for your timely response to communications from school principals about learning model options for the second semester. Principals and faculty at the elementary schools are finalizing rosters and will notify families about both hybrid instruction cohort assignments and plans for students who will remain in remote instruction early next week. SIS and SHS families have until midnight on Sunday, January 10 to declare their intentions. Please contact your principals if you have any questions about this information.
As we prepare for hybrid instruction, I want to review the data sources and guidelines approved by the School Board on December 22, 2020 that will guide learning model transitions. The Village of Shorewood’s community COVID-19 case burden (as reported by the Northshore Health Department) and transition thresholds developed by the District’s Medical Advisory Group will be used to make decisions about when and how students can return to classrooms. A new COVID-19 Dashboard on the District website reflects this information, and this will be updated weekly.
The community’s case burden reported on January 1, 2021 was 425. With today’s report of 501, we have met the requirement of two consecutive weeks of burden levels under 800, therefore hybrid instruction for students in 4K-6th grades will begin on Monday, January 25th. As you can see on the Dashboard, we have not met the burden level thresholds to begin this process for SIS (<400) or SHS (<300).
As we move forward this semester, decisions about moving between hybrid, in-person and remote instruction models will be based on operational criteria: adequate staff and substitutes to maintain instructional programs and operate schools safely; and student attendance. The District Nurse, School Principal, Superintendent and the North Shore Health Department will collaboratively make these decisions.
The District will also continue to work closely with the North Shore Health Department and follow recommendations from the CDC on COVID-19 testing, quarantine, and contact tracing procedures. As guidance from the CDC continues to evolve, the District Nurse will implement any needed changes to District policies, and will continue to authorize test results, quarantine and attendance for both students and staff. As with any other absence, students and families should coordinate the completion of missed assignments with their teacher if they are unable to participate in scheduled activities. Similarly, substitute teachers will cover classroom needs in the event of staff absences.
The District is completing a review of key virus mitigation issues to ensure that our procedures and systems meet or exceed guidelines for personal protective equipment for faculty and staff, building and classroom ventilation and physical distancing.
With continued feedback and support from the Medical Advisory Group, the teachers’ union and our contractors, in-person building and classroom procedures and student activities have been designed to meet physical distancing guidelines. Further, principals have worked with our construction superintendents to reduce the impact of construction on our learning environments.
The District is also in compliance with building and classroom ventilation guidelines provided by the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) and other authorities providing specific guidance on facilities and operations to school districts. Following these recommendations, the District will be replacing air filters, increasing outside air intake in all mechanical systems and purchasing portable air filter units to supplement unit ventilators in classrooms. Finally, the District will continue to follow guidance from the North Shore Health Department and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) for masking, sanitation, hand-washing hygiene and other personal health and safety strategies.
We know everyone is committed to doing their part to stop the spread of COVID-19 in our schools and in the community. Over the next week, school principals and staff will finish reviews of our health and safety requirements, student activity procedures, and Health Office case management and quarantine policies. Orientation activities planned for January 19-21 will include faculty and staff training, building “dress rehearsals” for activities and small group orientations for students. We look forward to seeing students and staff back in classrooms soon.
With Grace, Humility and Persistence,
Shorewood Schools Superintendent