Metrics Update 10/23

Update from the Metrics Reopening Advisory Team
Posted on 10/23/2020
Wilmette Public Schools District 39

Wilmette Public Schools District 39
Mikaelian Education Center
615 Locust Road
Wilmette, IL 60091

Metrics Team Update:

Our District 39 Metrics Reopening Advisory Team held its weekly meeting this 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. On Friday, the Team reviewed the most recent D39 Metrics Dashboard and full report. Below are critical updates from the Team’s review.

Here are a couple of topics discussed by the Team.

1.     As we shared last week, the COVID transmission metrics have recently shifted in the direction of the red zone on our Metrics Dashboard. The increase in COVID-19 Positivity Rates and New Cases per 100k Population indicates an increased risk of community spread of COVID-19. The metrics inform the need for increased awareness, monitoring and vigilance throughout our community and we consider the need for adjustments to our programming. We will continue to carefully monitor transmission rates and cases as we evaluate our programming.

2.     While we do not have plans to move to remote programming at this time, there is a possibility that the district may need to consider a pivot to remote learning in the future if community cases and positivity rates increase. 

3.     While we are not planning to pivot to remote learning at this time, everyone should be alert to the possibility for an adaptive pause to in-person instruction in the future.  Begin to consider what might be most helpful to prepare in case there is a need for a transition to short-term remote learning for your classroom, school or the district.  

4.     We must continue to be vigilant in our mitigation and prevention strategies within our school and throughout our communities. Our collective behavior, both in school and throughout our community, affects our health and the overall well-being of our entire community.  Please continue to practice social distancing, mask wearing and hand washing wherever you are.

What might cause a transition to remote programming?

While we do not have plans to move to remote programming at this time, we will continue to closely monitor the metrics to inform our decisions, adjustments and evaluation in ongoing ways. There are several reasons why a classroom, a school or the district might shift to remote learning.  

  1. COVID-19 Positive Case(s) Identified: When there is a COVID-19 positive case identified, the district works with the Cook County Department of Public Health (CCDPH) to conduct contact tracing and determine how best to isolate the case.  An identified case may lead to:
    1. The quarantine of the affected individual and his/her close contacts;
    2. The quarantine of a classroom; and/or,
    3. In the case of a cluster or within-school outbreak, the short-term transition to remote learning for a school.
  2. Governmental Guidance or Order: As detailed within our reopening plan, the district is prepared to shift to remote learning if:  
    1. The Northeast Region 10 moves to Phase 3 of the Governor’s Restore Illinois Plan;
    2. Guidance from ISBE/IDPH changes; or
    3. The Cook County Health Department advises transition to fully remote based on single or multiple cases within a classroom/school or based on metrics related to COVID-19 community spread.
  3. Operational Challenge: The district or one of its schools or classrooms may need to shift to remote learning if it cannot safely implement the health and safety guidelines and protocol of the reopening plan (e.g. due to limited availability of PPE, student and/or staff absenteeism, unsafe physical conditions, or other critical issues/factors).
  4. Adjustment Based on Metrics: The district may make adjustments to its in-person model based on its ongoing metrics review and the recommendation of the Metrics Reopening Advisory Team.  Our thresholds of mild, moderate and substantial risk levels have been established to help guide these considerations. These include consideration of an adaptive pause to in-person instruction if community spread metrics show:

a)     Sustained COVID-19 Positivity Rates above 8%;

b)    Sustained increase in New Cases per 100k above 100 for two consecutive weeks with a greater than 20% increase occurring each week;

c)     A county remaining in the “ORANGE” in the County-Level Metrics for two consecutive weeks.

The Metrics Team remains committed to ongoing review of its metrics and may need to recommend an adaptive pause to in-person instruction in the future if we do not continue to see the metrics for community spread stabilize or decline. 

The Metrics Team discussed a desire for advanced notice of the potential need to pivot, and we will focus on this communication in upcoming weeks.  Ideally, the Team would make a decision on Friday that would affect school operations for the subsequent week (10 days out) in order to allow for time to teachers and families to prepare and transition as smoothly as possible.  However, we recognize that this approach may not always be possible and there may be cause for the district or a school to pivot with shorter notice than this.  Thus, we need our entire community to be aware of the possibility of an adaptive pause of in-person instruction in the future. 

In the meantime, we continue to remind and reinforce our healthy habits and mitigation procedures within our schools, and we must continue to communicate the critical import of behaviors and healthy habits outside of school. We have all worked so incredibly hard to open our schools effectively and safely, and we now rely upon everyone’s partnership and vigilance, both within and outside of our schools, in order to care for the health and wellbeing of our community at large while also maintaining the opportunity for excellent instructional programming both in-person and remotely.  

For more information regarding our ongoing COVID-19 metrics review, please visit our D39 Metrics Dashboard page.

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