The nature of my work as a superintendent can be very fast paced and ever-changing. There are times our schools deal with the unknown and uncertainty. This is one of those times. In this instance I am referring to the Coronavirus, or COVID-19. I want to share with you a first person account of the decision making process I use and where I look for information as I make decisions. I also want to share with you measures we have taken, are currently doing and are considering.
During times of uncertainty and even panic, it is my job as a superintendent and leader to stay calm and measured while accessing accurate information so that our staff can develop the best plan for response. Every decision that we make is made with maintaining the health and safety of our students and staff as our top priority. In order to obtain the most accurate information as fast and reliably as possible I use professional and valid sources including but not limited to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), and several other professional organizations to which I belong. Here is where I do not go for my information: Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, Instagram and any other social media sites. Rarely if ever are there facts and information on these platforms, only opinions. There is a significant difference between facts and opinions.
It is natural to have feelings of uncertainty when the unknown meets the unexpected, myself included. With the COVID-19 outbreak I have been learning as much as possible as fast as possible to make sound decisions for our students, staff and schools. If you are one that is still seeking and getting most of your information through social media I encourage you to stop. Instead, refer back to our district information sent to you last week with simple recommendations you can take to keep you and your children safe such as washing your hands. You can find that message here.
We encourage our students, staff and families to be mindful of key preventive measures. The CDC offers some tips on its website that can be useful in avoiding the spread of this and other illnesses.
Since last week the District has implemented additional action steps that I want to share with you:
- We are building Continued Learning Kits (CLKs) that will be issued to students either electronically or via paper packets in the event schools must close. These CLKs are not intended to replace the daily face-to-face instruction from our teachers. Instead, these kits are meant to supplement learning and are to help prevent any academic “slide” as a result of being out of school for an extended period of time. You will receive more information from your child’s teacher(s) and principal in the coming days.
- IAR exams are postponed and will be rescheduled for March 30, 2020.
- All non-school related events, club meetings, practices, etc. will be suspended effective immediately until further notice. To further clarify CUSD #6 facilities will be closed to all outside organizations.
- All after school events and gatherings of 200 or more people will be postponed until further notice. Determinations on postponed events will be made by administration and done so on a case-by-case basis.
- All perfect attendance incentives are discontinued for the remainder of the year. If your child is sick, they should not be at school. Students need to be fever free for 24 hours before returning to class after any illness.
Please know this is a dynamic situation that is ever-changing. We are engaged in conversations and receiving new information by the hour which may result in additional recommendations and safety measures that we will communicate with you.
To close, we are planning and using deliberate leadership to be proactive instead of being reactive while waiting for a crisis to happen. I want to reassure you that there are many of us in our schools and community who are working very hard to ensure our safety. As we move forward in the coming days I will keep you informed as this situation evolves.
Be the Difference,
Dan W. Cox, Superintendent of Schools