Message from District 7: 10-2-2020
District 7 Families:
One of the District’s highest priorities has been and continues to be creating a safe and healthy learning environment for both students and employees that supports the delivery of quality instruction at all levels. The District’s commitment to this priority has been even more focused over the past seven months as a result of the pandemic that has impacted the world, our country, our state and our own District 7 communities.
On July 30, 2020, a communication was sent out to all parents that explained three different scheduling models for the 2020-2021 school year. Those models included a traditional (5 days a week) learning model, a hybrid learning model, and a remote learning model. On that date, we stated that Pre-K through fifth grade students would start the school year in the traditional learning model and that grades 6 through 12 would be in the hybrid learning model for at least the first semester.
This communication confirms that District 7 will continue the traditional learning model for grades Pre-K through five and the hybrid learning model for grades 6 through 12 for the remainder of the first semester. This should provide clarity for families and eliminate the uncertainty regarding the schedule for the remainder of the first semester.
In our current situation, the hybrid learning model remains the safest option for our middle and high school students and offers a combination of live and remote instruction. The middle schools and high school have been able to conduct mitigation strategies which have allowed the District to keep our students and staff safe while providing in-person instruction for the first seven weeks of school. Through the hybrid learning model at the middle and high school levels, we have been effectively able to keep the number of staff and students quarantined to a minimum.
During the week of October 19th, District 7 will send out information to families regarding scheduling plans for all grade levels for second semester. We will allow parents the opportunity to determine what is best for their student from the available options presented. Responses will be due to the District by the end of October. This timeline will allow the District to adequately staff for both remote and in-person classrooms for the second semester.
Keep in mind that at any time during the 2020-2021 school year, District 7 could be forced to suspend in-person instruction and move to a 100% remote setting under the following conditions:
- The community as a whole is under a stay-at-home order from the Governor or another local or state agency.
- The District does not have enough staff members (due to quarantine) to safely operate.
- There are outbreaks within at least three District 7 schools. An outbreak is defined by the Madison County Health Department as “two or more laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 cases who are epidemiologically linked to the outbreak setting, have onsets of illness within a 14-day period, do not share a household, and are not listed as a close contact of each other outside of the outbreak setting.” Individual classrooms and schools will have in-school instruction suspended prior to the entire District moving to a remote setting. Click here for more details regarding this metric.
Student Mental Health Concerns
District 7 is continually improving programs and services to address the social/emotional needs of all students. We recently added additional mental health professionals for the 2020-2021 school year to better meet the social/emotional needs of our students. District 7 staff is available to help students through difficulties that they may be facing. This is true whether students are in an in-person, hybrid, or remote learning setting. If you would like your child to speak with a District 7 counselor, social worker, or school psychologist, please contact your child’s building principal who can help start this process.
District 7 understands the challenges with hybrid instruction for students, families and staff members. As students and staff members are becoming more comfortable with the schedule and the technology, we will continue to see improvements. Teachers and administrators are committed to continuing to learn new methods and instructional technology platforms to provide instruction to all students. While we recognize this is not the ideal format that any educator, parent, or student would desire in normal circumstances, we feel this is currently the best way to provide a safe learning environment for our middle and high school students.
In addition, District 7 will continue to evaluate different models of hybrid scheduling that allow students to stay socially distanced while receiving the maximum amount of in-person instruction. Any changes to the hybrid schedule would be communicated to parents at least two weeks before implementation.
Next week, District 7 will survey families and students to get additional feedback about the first quarter of the school year regarding topics such as scheduling, the hybrid learning model, and remote learning. This data will be used as part of the decision-making process as we plan for the second semester.
Thank you for your continued patience and support.
Dr. Jason Henderson