Dear Parents and Students,
I am sending my message a couple days early this week to communicate information from last night’s Board of Education meeting.
Remote Learning Continues Until March 8
The Board of Education approved the recommendation to continue with remote learning until at least March 8. The reasoning behind this difficult decision is below.
High Rate of Transmission
The safety of our students and staff continues to be paramount and our top priority. The chart below shows the guidance for community transmission from IDPH:
These are the metrics that guide our decisions on a monthly basis. In late July, when the Board approved beginning the school year remotely, our region was at a 5.7 percent positivity rate. Unfortunately, the most current COVID-19 county and school metric data uploaded from IDPH (Week of 1/3/2021 to 1/9/2021) had the test positivity rate for Will County at 12.6 percent with New Cases per 100K at 391. Yesterday, the rate for Will County was at 8.2%. Though there has been a decrease in this metric, the county is still experiencing substantial community transmission. Along with the county data, our JTHS community ZIP code data also demonstrates substantial transmission as shown on the following table:
Logistics & Disruption to the Learning Environment
In addition to the safety concerns, with current positivity rates and new cases for our county and community at such a high level, the logistics of implementing a hybrid structure pose a significant challenge. Our school population stands at over 3,200 per campus and we employ nearly 1,000 staff members. Higher community transmission leads to a higher number of staff required to quarantine due to contracting the virus or COVID exposure. This causes a disruption to the learning environment and prohibits the successful implementation of the return to hybrid in-person learning at this time.
Return to In-Person Hybrid Learning
We want you to know that when we can safely and successfully return to school, we are prepared to do so. The decision to continue with remote learning is re-assessed monthly to determine the viability of implementing a hybrid model of in-person instruction. The hybrid model includes a cohort schedule that divides students into groups and allows students to attend one to two days in person with the remainder of instruction delivered remotely. Classrooms are arranged to follow social distancing guidelines, and PPE and disinfectant materials are fully stocked and on-site. A Crisis Go platform for daily staff and student medical certification is activated, and a detailed and comprehensive school re-opening plan is ready for implementation.
We Share Your Disappointment
Remote learning is not without its challenges and we share in the disappointment that this extension brings. This is not an easy decision, and we are all growing weary. However, I am hopeful that our transmission rates will decline with the vaccine on the horizon. When our metrics for our county and our community reach minimal community transmission, as defined in the chart above, we look forward to the return to in-person instruction. We are getting closer, but unfortunately, we are not there yet.
Jeff Pierson Appointed to Board of Education – Fills Seat Vacated by Meg Cappel
Also at last night’s meeting, the Board of Education appointed Mr. Jeff Pierson to fill the seat vacated by Ms. Meg Cappel.
Mr. Pierson comes to the board with a wealth of experience having served on the board from 2001 to 2019 in a variety of roles, including President. Mr. Pierson made a positive impact in the Joliet-area community throughout his leadership including involvement in the district’s adoption of its very first Strategic Plan which brought financial stability and the re-instatement of the Central and West athletic teams.
Mr. Pierson is a lifelong resident of Joliet, a Joliet West alumnus, and parent a West graduate. His community service and involvement includes past service as President of the Rotary Club of Joliet, member of the Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce and Industry, service as the Vice President of the Rialto Square Theatre Board of Directors, and Board Member for Guardian Angel Community Services.
Joliet Township High School warmly welcomes Mr. Pierson to the Board of Education.
MLK Produce & Hygiene Drive-Thru (Monday, January 25 – 12:30 to 2 p.m. @ Central)
In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his legacy of service, the Visitation & Aid Society, Catholic Charities, BAG Lady Outreach, Will County Habitat for Humanity, the Zonta Club of the Joliet Area and Joliet Township High School are partnering to provide and distribute produce and toiletry items to families picking up school meals on Monday, January 25 from 12:30 to 2 p.m.
Missing Assignment & Grade Alerts
Starting tomorrow, every Thursday after 4 p.m., parents and students will receive an Infinite Campus alert and an email with a list of any missing assignments that the students have. This includes homework, quizzes, projects, and tests. Teachers will code anything missing with an M. Students should make up all assignments on this list. It is important to note that teachers may assign due dates for re-dos and missing assignments to make sure that students are learning the content for the class and getting good grades on exams. So, for the students reading this email, we want you to know that this means that you cannot stop doing your assignments and then expect to make them up the week before Report Cards come out. This will not be an option.
In addition to the list of missing assignments, parents and students will receive an Infinite Campus Alert and email with a grade report for all classes every Monday afternoon. This report contains the most up-to-date class grades for students, and we encourage parents to discuss this report with their students and to reach out to teachers or sign up for tutoring if extra help is needed.
Our FREE online tutoring program will begin January 25. Students and families can sign-up on the district website: https://www.jths.org/district-programs/virtual-tutoring. Tutors are available for math, English, science, and social science with hours after school and the weekend.
Next Week’s Schedule
Dr. Karla Guseman Superintendent