Metrics Update 11/16

Update from the Metrics Reopening Advisory Team
Posted on 11/16/2020
Wilmette Public Schools District 39

Wilmette Public Schools District 39
Mikaelian Education Center
615 Locust Road
Wilmette, IL 60091
847-512-6000
www.wilmette39.org

At this evening’s Board Meeting, the Board of Education will be provided with an update on the D39 Metrics Advisory Team discussion and recommendations. This update is summarized below.

Based on community spread of COVID-19 and internal operations, we are faced with the exceptionally challenging decision regarding continuation of in-person instruction in light of the alarming community spread of COVID-19 and the operational challenges we are experiencing as a result. This evening, the Board will receive an update and recommendation that District 39 take an adaptive pause of in-person instruction during the week of November 30th. All students and staff should plan to participate in remote learning in the week immediately following Thanksgiving Break.

This recommendation is informed by the ongoing Metrics Advisory Team’s review of both external and internal metrics and is based on a combination of factors including substantial rates of COVID-19 throughout our community, increasing quarantine restrictions and ongoing concerns regarding our ability to safely staff and operate our schools as we have done successfully over the last 10 weeks. The external metrics are high and rising, and lead us to anticipate increased, unavoidable challenges to our internal staffing and operations. Throughout this upcoming week, the District will continue to monitor metrics and opportunities for in-person instruction in the two weeks that follow. The District is continuing to explore options for additional COVID testing and expects to learn more from our Governor and the CCDPH this week regarding stay-at-home orders, travel guidance and quarantine restrictions that will help to inform decisions for the two weeks before winter break. We believe that planning proactively for remote learning during the week immediately following Thanksgiving Break will assist us in caring for the health and safety of our students and staff while also providing for predictable and rigorous learning experiences during this short-term adaptive pause to in-person instruction.

We know that news of this short-term adaptive pause will be disappointing to students, families and staff involved in our in-person instructional programs. District 39 values and recognizes the tremendous benefits of in-person instruction and remains committed to providing these opportunities. However, as we have said throughout our reopening efforts, health and safety must remain our top priority. We continue to appreciate our community’s collective efforts in support of the health and safety of our students, staff and community at large.

Below is a summary of the Metrics Team Discussion and related updates.

Metrics Team Update:
Our District 39 Metrics Reopening Advisory Team holds its weekly meeting every Friday morning. The purpose of the Metrics Team is to study important school-relevant metrics of COVID-19 and the District’s Reopening Plan in order to guide adjustments to our reopening efforts and improvements in health and safety protocol. Friday morning, the Team reviewed the most recent D39 Metrics Dashboard and full report. Below are critical updates from Friday’s Metric Team review.

Summary of Metrics Discussion:
The D39 Metrics Team discussion this week focused on the following two primary areas.
  • A review of the action steps of subcommittees last week. Three sub-committees of the Metrics Advisory Team met to conduct a review of operational issues and concerns, staffing and additional preemptive substitute arrangements, and COVID-19 testing options within the district. A report from each subcommittee was provided and discussed.
  • A review of external and internal metrics was discussed in order to thoughtfully consider the need for a potential short-term adaptive pause to in-person instruction. The Metrics Team monitors two key areas within our metrics: COVID-19 Community spread metrics (reported in the top half of the dashboard) and school operations, staffing, attendance and cases (reported in the bottom half of the dashboard). Findings are summarized below.

 

COVID-19 Community Spread Metrics: The COVID-19 metrics in the region as well as more locally have continued to show alarming positivity rates and new cases per 100,000 population. In the top half of the District’s Metrics dashboard, the Team considers a variety of data and are most concerned about the positivity rates and the new cases per 100,000 population across a variety of areas. Each of these metrics fell within the substantial range as of Friday’s meeting in the region, and some have remained there in a sustained way for two weeks or more. Slightly more moderate community spread with lower positivity rates had been recognized in Wilmette and the Township previously, though these rates have increased daily. As of Friday, all community spread metrics for COVID-19 are in the substantial range.

Operational Metrics: The lower half of the District’s Metrics dashboard, the team considers the District’s internal operations. These metrics focus on the District’s implementation of mitigation procedures and their impact within our schools as well as staffing, student attendance and COVID-19 cases and quarantines. The District has experienced relatively low case numbers within its schools, and has not seen an increase in the weekly cases identified. Additionally, throughout its schools, the District has experienced good success in implementing mitigation procedures and has seen no evidence of within-school transmission of the virus. The District has successfully identified and isolated cases that originated outside of our schools, moved close contacts to quarantine and then safely back to school, and implemented the guidance of the Cook County Department of Public Health (CCDPH). The structure and mitigation procedures of our schools help to make schools more safe than many other locations throughout our community. However, there remains a very real risk that increasing community spread will increase the number of cases entering our schools from outside sources as well as the number of students and staff on quarantine due to outside exposure. While case numbers within our schools have remained stable and the number of quarantines due to possible within school close contacts actually declined last week, the numbers of students and staff on quarantine due to exposure outside of school have risen, as have the number of unfilled staff absences. While we have been able to operate our schools safely, our ability to continue to do so in light of the alarming community spread and increasing issues associated with quarantines is a challenge.

Conclusions: Metrics related to COVID-19 community spread and to our internal operations, staffing and quarantine restrictions are critically important to informing our next steps. The Team recognizes sustained COVID-19 community spread metrics in the substantial “red” range. We have also seen our more local community spread metrics move into the substantial “red” range this week. In the lower half of the District’s Metrics dashboard, the District continue to do relatively well in terms of operations within our schools; however, substantial challenges are identified in the areas of quarantines due to exposure outside of our schools and unfilled absences. While case numbers within our schools have remained stable and the number of quarantines due to within school cases declined last week, the numbers of students and staff on quarantine due to potential exposure outside of school has risen, as have the number of unfilled staff absences. Further complicating the matter, we are unfortunately not being given clear guidance from the Governor’s office or the CCDPH regarding stay-at-home orders, travel restrictions and related quarantine orders.

Recommendations for Action:
Based on the ongoing Metrics Advisory Team’s review of both external and internal metrics and a combination of factors including substantial rates of COVID-19 throughout our community, increasing quarantine restrictions and ongoing concerns regarding our ability to safely staff and operate our schools, the District will take an adaptive pause to in-person instruction for the week November 30th, with all staff and students participating in remote learning for that week. In addition, the following are being pursued this week.

  • Additional preemptive substitutes provided daily to each of our school buildings to support staffing needs and absences,
  • Expanded access to optional PCR testing to students and household members of staff,
  • Exploration of COVID-19 testing options for students and staff for screening/surveillance,
  • Ongoing review of our internal operations to continue to evaluate the safety of keeping our schools open for in-person instruction,
  • Continuous review of guidance from the Governor’s Office and the Cook County Department of Public Health regarding stay-at-home orders, quarantine restrictions, school operations and travel restrictions
  • Actively monitoring metrics, staffing and operations while evaluating plans for in-person instruction in the two weeks prior to winter break, and
  • Ongoing reminders to all of the need to practice healthy habits within our schools AND throughout our community.

 

Future Meetings:

The Board of Education will be provided with an update this evening at their regular Board of Education Meeting. This meeting will be live-streamed on our D39 YouTube Channel. Over this next week, the District will be actively monitoring the situation and evaluating plans and opportunities for in-person instruction in the two weeks that follow. The District continues to pursue testing options and expects to learn more from the Governor and the CCDPH this week that will help us to know if in-person school will be possible during those two weeks. The Metrics Advisory Team will meet again on Friday, November 20th.

We want to thank everyone for their ongoing support and hard work in light of the ever-changing and challenging times we are navigating. Please continue to be well, continue to practice the three Ws across all environments (watch your distance, wear a mask, wash your hands) and, as much as you possibly can, continue to spread joy and kindness wherever your path may take you. The world needs our collective human kindness now, as much as ever, and we all benefit immensely from partnership with one another as well as our community at large. Thank you!


Website by SchoolMessenger Presence. © 2020 Intrado Corporation. All rights reserved.