Open District 67 & 115
Open District 67 & 115
December 8, 2020
Letter to the Board of Districts 67 and 115:
I write to you on behalf of the children and parents in Lake Forest Districts 67 and 115. On November 18, Mr. Simeck issued an unexpected and abrupt Update to the Adaptive Pause, stating that hybrid in-person learning would resume on Tuesday, January 19. We respectfully disagree with the current approach of the District. We need to get our K-4 kids back in school on or before Monday, January 11 2021.
We want to know how the date of January 19 was proposed and accepted. We live in a responsible, committed community. How are our neighboring, and bigger, districts like Libertyville and Winnetka currently making a hybrid model happen? We need additional options for opening our schools.
At this point, the solution to the problem is worse than the problem itself. That is to say, the long-term trauma our children are suffering by remaining in isolation by far exceeds any problematic precautionary measures taken in the fight against Covid. Our children are sad, anxious, lonely, and frustrated. Their mental, cognitive, and physical health are all being heavily compromised.
We point to the following articles as evidence. In their analysis of loss associated with school closures, Dr. Christakis states that, “In this decision...the analysis favored schools remaining open.” (1). In her study of Advocating for Children During the Covid-19 School Closures, Dr. Masonbrink advocates that “The COVID-19 school closures pose an imminent threat to child health and wellbeing... we must prioritize research and careful planning to guide safe and equitable plans for school reopenings…”(2).
Furthermore, the local data that is specific to our community does not support or validate remote learning. Using regional or statewide metrics as the barometer for our school status is a mistake. As shown, Lake County is well below McHenry in the positivity rate provided by IDPH. Furthermore, the 60045 zip code has the 3rd best metrics of Lake County. Tier 3 mitigation leaves the decision of school opening/closing to the local communities. Thus, the Lake County Health Department should publish localized metrics on which to base our decisions. The YTD positivity rate for 60045 (as shown) is 4.4%. Why is this data not published at least weekly to provide current metrics for our school system? Why are we not basing our decisions on our locality? If the answer is because we are missing local data, will the school administration and advisory committee ask IDPH and/or LCHD to provide it? The administration’s adaptive pause is an inappropriate response to the prevalence rate of Covid cases within our community.
We refuse to become complacent during this pause in learning, and we also refuse to accept the January 19 date return to in-person learning. Our children are adaptive, resilient, and eager. They are compliant with mask wearing, and cooperative with social distancing, and other great many safety measures to support in person learning that we have funded and implemented.
They will continue to follow where we lead them. They look to you, our teachers and administration, to act on their best behalf. We have been patient, and we have done what you have asked us to do. Now you need to do your job, and that is to support and teach our children with their best interests at heart.
We can do better as a community. We are overflowing with ideas and resources. We urge the D67 Board of Education to adapt, find options, and have a more efficient communication plan. Our suggestions and questions include: Why are we not entertaining Kindergarten and 1 st Grade going back? Have you shared elementary numbers versus DPM to create a differentiated plan by school/grade level? Why not safely rotate kids into the buildings sitting empty? Can we enlist parents to perform the entry and exit procedures involved? AVA is also an option for students not comfortable with in-person learning.
The professional, responsible, and ethical action is to reopen our school doors no later than Monday, January 11 2021. The current path is not validated, clear, or sustainable. Our community can do better and deserves to have a greater voice in the matter. Please work to get the kids back to in-person instruction.
Annalisa Soukup, Everett Parent
1). Christakis, Dimitri A., Wil Van Cleve and Frederick J. Zimmerman. “Estimation of US Childrens’ Educational Attainment and Years of Life Lost Associated with Primary School Closures During the COVID-19 Pandemic”, JAMA, 11/12/2020.
2). Masonbrink, Abbey R. and Emily Hurley. “Advocating for Children During the COVID-19 School Closures”, Pediatrics: The Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, 9/2020.