April 3, 2020 4:30 PM
As you all have heard and as we were all expecting, on March 31 the governor extended the time school buildings will be closed in the state to April 30. We are following guidance from the state, and consistent with the state there is a community message that has to be part of a community effort to mitigate against the spread of this coronavirus. The City of Highland Park has a COVID-19 page on its website, the Village of Deerfield has a COVID-19 page, and District 113 has a COVID-19 page. The message is we have to observe social distancing and stay home as much as possible. Each person doing that is contributing to the community effort to stop the spread and get us back in school. As the weather gets warmer and staying at home grinds on, the temptation will be to let down our guard. Please don’t. We can all list the reasons we want this pandemic to end, and one of them is getting back to school. The graphics at the bottom of this communication are also on the webpages of the City of Highland Park and Deerfield, included here to symbolize that this is a community effort requiring the efforts of each of us.
We have been preparing for remote learning for awhile now and Remote Learning Days launched in District 113 on March 31, the date the Illinois State Board of Education set for them to begin. On that day, 96 percent of District 113 students logged on to our learning management system, Schoology, which is how we take attendance. It is worth noting that 96 percent of our students logged in knowing that their grades would not be reduced while we are in Remote Learning Days. I am told by other high school superintendents that they are seeing the same thing. Students want to engage with their teachers and each other, and--dare I say it--they miss school. I know our teachers miss them. The only requirement for the Remote Learning Plan was that the superintendent approve it and that it be posted on our website. We posted ours on March 30. It is not perfect, but it represents the work and thought of a lot of people, far more people than can be mentioned or thanked. The point is that we are learning as we go, and we expect this document to change as we learn. We value your comments and feedback and we appreciate your patience as we learn how to engage students remotely.
With the Remote Learning Plan we also created a Remote Learning FAQ page for parents. We know there are many questions we are still working to answer, and this page will be updated along with the Remote Learning Plan as we move forward. Please know that we will communicate with you directly when important announcements need to be made or when we need to make you aware of significant changes.
Schoology, like other companies providing online services, has seen a dramatic increase in traffic on its servers. At the very beginning, Schoology could not keep up with the surge in demand, and this was not a District 113 issue or an issue with wifi in your house. The surge in demand was everywhere. We monitor Schoology constantly and see when it goes down, comes back, goes down. Our IT department reports these disruptions as they occur to students and teachers. Remember, you can always check status at this link. In addition to ramping up capacity, late this week, Schoology made changes to differentiate its service into two tiers, so that customers using the free version were on a different tier than customers who are paying for it, like us. That has made it much more stable. Schoology will continue to add capacity and make adjustments in order accommodate the unprecedented number of students and teachers now teaching and learning remotely.
I invite you to follow us on social media. We put on our social media channels announcements of communications posted on our website, and Twitter and Facebook are places to find District 113 news from District 113. In addition, if you know someone would like to receive news from District 113 but the person is not a current D113 parent or staff member, they can click on the envelope icon below to sign up.
Thank you for your continued patience and support. Be well.
Bruce Law, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools
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