COVID & School Program Status information
Our Plan for Winter and Spring, Starting In January
As we look ahead to the second half of this extraordinary school year, a few things are (somewhat) more clear than they were back in September. First, we have seen from many different examples, both local and national and even international, that it is possible for schools to operate safely during this pandemic. Put simply, K-8 schools do not seem to be hotspots for COVID outbreaks. Children under age 14 appear to be less susceptible to the virus and also not to transmit it as easily as adults. In addition we have seen that safety measures such as wearing masks, cohorting, being outdoors, and maintaining social distance as much as possible are highly effective in curbing COVID transmission.
Because of our new scientific and medical understanding of how COVID operates in schools, along with our fervent belief that in-person learning is vastly superior to remote learning for students and teachers, we remain committed to providing in-person school for students to the fullest extent possible. We must balance this with the need to keep children, families, and teachers/staff safe and comfortable with the level of risk they are taking on. At the current time, our plans are as follows:
Extended Winter Break, December 21--January 8 (already on the 2020-21 calendar). Return to school for students: January 11. Return to school for teachers: January 6. Extra planning time is needed January 6-8 to continue addressing the challenges of remote teaching and to prepare for transitioning back to hybrid in-person.
Grades K-2 will remain in person, 8:30-12:00 daily, unless and until the state mandates school closures OR cases of COVID within the TCS community force a classroom or classrooms to go remote OR positivity rates in Region 10 surge to levels where teachers feel unsafe teaching in person.
Grades 3-8 will return to in-person, 8:30-12:00 daily, on Tuesday, January 19, 2021. Fully remote schedule will remain in place January 11--January 15. This is to give 2 full weeks after New Year’s in case of holiday gatherings.
Return to School After Break Pledge is required after Winter Break for ALL K-8 families, including remote students who may be participating in outdoor meet-ups. Please submit by Saturday, January 9th if your child is returning to school or to an outdoor meet-up the week of January 11th.
At faculty request, we are also asking all families to re-sign and re-commit to the Family Safety Agreement from the beginning of the year.
PLEASE NOTE: The above plan is contingent on positivity rates in Region 10 staying between 0-20% and relatively stable. If positivity rates go higher or surge rapidly, we may need to reassess. In addition, if there is any kind of outbreak at TCS or if there is for any reason insufficient staff to keep classrooms operating in person, we will need to reassess.
Conferences will take place January 28 and 29, 2021. Teachers are already discussing in what ways conferences and narrative reports may look different this year because teachers and students have spent significantly less time together in person than would be typical. We will use time during January 6th-8th to continue this planning.
We will continue to offer a fully remote option for grades 3-8 for the balance of this school year. If you would like to switch your student’s enrollment status (from fully remote to hybrid, or from hybrid to fully remote), please let us know by email by January 4, 2021.
There will be a small number (5 or fewer) of new students beginning after Winter Break. Despite a steady stream of inquiries this fall, TCS has chosen to be protective of our class cohorts and keep class size smaller and more manageable for teachers.
Likely we will not return to full-day in-person school until a vaccine is widely available and/or positivity rates in our region are extremely low. Earliest would be after Spring Break, but Fall 2021-22 looks more likely at this point.
TCS Health Advisory Committee
To help us evaluate and confirm our reopening procedure, and to help us develop ways to appropriately and safely respond to Covid-19 throughout the school year, we are so grateful to have the help of our newly assembled Health Advisory Committee. The committee is comprised of TCS parents who are professionals in the medical field, and also understand the unique needs and ways of our school community.
Thank you to our Health Advisory Committee:
Michael Angarone, DO
Assistant Professor of Medicine (Infectious Diseases) and Medical Education Feinberg School of Medicine
Abigail Hodges, MD
Pediatrician, Oak Park Pediatrics
Magda Houlberg, MD, FACP
Chief Clinical Officer, Howard Brown Health
Muriel Jean-Jacques, MD Internist, Northwestern Medical Group and Assistant Professor Feinberg School of Medicine
Regina Kim, MD
Family Medicine, Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at Northwestern Medicine
David Shoham, PhD, MSPH
Epidemiologist and Director of Loyola's Public Health Programs
8th Grade Documentary
on Covid-19 Pandemic
Our 2020 Murder of Crows class made a documentary on how the Covid-19 pandemic has affected community residents, local businesses, students, and teachers. They interviewed local experts, including OPRF Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Liz Holt, and Loyola University epidemiologist Dr. David Shoham, and several local business owners. During the project, they met with professional documentary filmmakers, Dan Andries and Anne Northrup, and also planned ways to promote their documentary both to and beyond the TCS community.