Superintendent's Message

  • Fall 2020

    Dear River Grove School Community,

    The River Grove School focus for the start of the school year has been to implement and refine the Remote Learning Plan. This plan is critical as we face the realities of educating students during the COVID-19 pandemic. While we have been working to plan for having students on site at RGS, it will not be possible to have all students on site at the same time. 

    Additionally, there are strict symptom guidelines required to be in place, so at any point in time, some, or all students will learn remotely. RGS has been back to school for approximately 2 weeks and we already have had 4 staff members required to quarantine at home. It is inevitable that as we move through this school year we will have staff and students learning remotely. A strong Remote Learning Plan will keep learning consistent and successful. Thank you to all of our families and staff for taking the time to get used to remote learning.

    Here are three important updates:

    1. REMOTE LEARNING PLAN CHANGE ON MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 14

    At the end of August, about 5 days into remote learning, Mr. Wiley sent a survey to students (3rd-8th), parents and teachers, about their perceptions of the RGS plan. When asked how remote learning and technology are going, on average, all groups assigned about a 7 on a 10 point scale, indicating that most students and parents are satisfied with the process.  The concerns that came forward had to do with the length of the school day related to students being on a digital device for 7 straight hours. All groups felt that the length of the day, for direct, live instruction was too long and students need screen breaks.

    So, in order to improve remote learning for students, parents and teachers, Friday, September 11, will be a planning day for teachers and a day off of school. It is scheduled as a half day, but it will now be a full day off, with no remote learning. Beginning Monday, September 14 the new Remote Learning Plan will take effect with students logging in for live instruction from 8:30 am-12:30 pm. The afternoon, from 1-3:30 pm, may be more flexible for students to participate in PE and specials, with some live instruction, meet individually with teachers and complete assignments at their own pace. Additionally during the morning hours, students will be given screen breaks where we expect them to step away from the device and have a movement break.

    2. ON SITE LEARNING 

    Having students learning on site at RGS is our ultimate goal. Meeting this goal will require keeping staff and students healthy and safe.

    Health And Safety Requirements For Staff And Students

    Preparing for on site learning is complex. There are health guidelines that we are mandated to follow and they are quite strict.  On August 20, 2020, the Illinois State Board of Education released six “non-negotiables” for in-person instruction: 1. Masks required on busses and in school buildings at all times, 2. Increased cleaning/disinfecting, 3. Social distancing, 4. No more than 50 individuals gathering in one space, 5. Symptom screenings/temperature checks, and 6. the option for remote learning. 

    The Centers for Disease Control, Illinois Department of Public Health and Cook County Department of Public Health all provide COVID-19 Exclusion Guidance. 

    RGS is committed to the health and well being of our community. The best way to keep everyone healthy is to wear masks at all times, distance staff and students 6 feet apart, and adhere to a strict symptom response.

    Here is the RGS COVID-19 Related Absence Flowchart: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1pH_nzmqtmbF0hoPQCOXz_F9IyMI562wEjoUMzgEMkY4/edit?usp=sharing

    On Site Learning Options at RG

    There are several models of on site learning in schools. Most of the models have smaller groups of students on busses, arriving through entrances, moving in hallways and distancing 6 feet apart in classrooms. Most models do not incorporate lunch on site, as this is the time which could potentially be the highest risk of airborne virus transmission since students have masks off, chew food and talk.

    Many “hybrid” models are A/B days, meaning the school is divided in half, and each team is on site 2 shorter days per week. But, many of these examples are schools with fewer students than RGS or have a much larger space. River Grove School is somewhat unique in that we have over 700 students in PreK through 8th grades and 85 staff members in one building. In order to have safe and manageable numbers, we may have to have 3 teams or have a plan for elementary and a plan for Junior High. Full remote learning will continue to be an option for families who prefer their child/ren continue to learn at home.

    3. CRITICAL INFORMATION NEEDED FROM PARENTS

    The decisions for on site learning and the potential models we will be able to consider will be impacted by how many students will actually come back on site to RGS. It is critical that we have an accurate number for student attendance to develop a feasible plan. Every RGS student just received a Form to their school email account. This will be a requirement for all parents to submit if they want their child to attend in-person learning. Parents can also use this to share that their child will continue with remote learning. We will make plans by the quarter. This means that parents are only committing to send their child to school from the start of the plan through the end of quarter 2 (December 18th, 2020). There will be another option in December to sign up for on-site learning for quarter 3, and another in February for quarter 4. 

    Families who choose on site learning can change their mind and shift to remote learning if they desire, but will remain remote until the end of the quarter. Families choosing remote cannot change to on site learning until the quarter change. RGS is committed to staff and student health and safety and our plans will be made based on specific numbers in order to appropriately socially distance in classrooms.

    Any parent who is interested in sending their child to on-site learning must submit the Form by Tuesday, September 15 at 9am. To submit the Form for your child, please use the RGS device (iPad/Chromebook) and click the link in the email sent to the student email account. You will need to complete this Form for each child.

    We look forward to continuing to work with you to support your child’s learning because WeAreRG!

    Be well Royals!

    Dr. Rashid