Superintendent's update: What's next?

Dear OPRF Staff, Students, and Families,

Today we have reached a significant day in our unprecedented spring: the last day for any new remote learning assignments for our students. Tomorrow, May 22, and next week, May 26-28, are days to turn in any uncompleted work from fourth quarter. (Please click here for our May 12 update on how grading works for this semester.)

I am so grateful for all you have done to get our school community through these past 10 weeks since the building closed. Faculty and staff, THANK YOU for your tireless commitment to our students and the innovation so many of you have shown as you’ve had to navigate your own families’ challenges. Students, THANK YOU for doing your best to engage with an entirely new form of teaching and learning while experiencing so much stress. And families, THANK YOU for unwavering support for your children and our teachers and staff, as you too have had to reconfigure your life. 

We each have had our own unique challenges and struggles during this time, but nevertheless we have arrived at this milestone together. I couldn’t be more proud of our Huskie school community.

Your moment of OPRF positivity
To mark today’s significance, which surely is bittersweet for our seniors, I want to share this beautiful email and video from music teacher Meredith McGuire:

“The OPRF Choirs have a tradition of singing a song called ‘The Road Home’ as the last piece performed of the last concert of every year. During this performance, one-by-one our seniors take their final exit from the stage, leaving the freshman - juniors as the only singers to sing the last few measures. It is truly a special (and emotional) tradition. We are so sad to end the year without singing this together but, thanks to my wonderful and amazingly talented colleague Drew Fredrickson, we were able to put together a virtual performance of this piece. This is a recording of over 150 students singing while in quarantine. I hope you enjoy it!” Click here to see the video. 

What’s next?
As we look ahead to August, the pandemic that turned our education system upside down continues to evolve at a rapid pace, creating a great deal of uncertainty about the conditions we will be facing when we look to open schools for the 2020-2021 school year.

As we await further direction from the state, we have already started planning for a number of scenarios that prioritize the health and safety of our students, staff, families, and community. We have not yet made any decisions regarding next school year. We are committed to doing everything we can to safely return to on-site learning to the extent that is possible. But our ability to reopen our building will be dependent on the most up-to-date guidance from the governor (Restore Illinois), the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), and the Oak Park Department of Public Health. 

Re-Imagine Education OPRF
I have assembled a transition steering committee called Re-Imagine Education OPRF, which is creating plans for a safe and equitable return to school in fall 2020. The steering committee comprises five committees: Teaching and Learning, Operations, Employees, Financial Implications, and Communications. Some of these committees are further divided into several subcommittees.

On June 25, we will present to the Board of Education a solid draft plan for three different re-opening scenarios:

  1. In-person only: Returning to on-site learning as we knew it prior to March 13 would require our region being in Phase 5 of the Restore Illinois plan. 
  2. Hybrid in-person/remote learning: This scenario would require our region to be in at least Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois plan and will include protocols to ensure social distancing and prevent the spread of illness. 
  3. Remote learning only. We are planning to use what we have learned this spring to improve our instruction. Our goal is to provide a positive, consistent, and equitable experience for all of our students.

With all of these scenarios, we will consider the tremendous impact that Covid-19 has had on our community’s social-emotional health and how we can provide as much support as possible.

Summer meals
For any student in need, we will continue weekly distribution of seven breakfasts and seven lunches, except for June 22. On that day, we will distribute nine of each meal to carry students through June 30.  We do not know if we will be serving meals in July/August yet and will keep you posted.

Distribution is still from 11:00 a.m. - 1:30 p.m., with the following location changes:

  • Tuesday, May 26: On the Mall (west side of the building) by the picnic tables.
  • Mondays, June 1, 8, 15, and 22: Curbside at the Main Entrance on Scoville.

Thank you for your patience and understanding throughout this time. We will keep you updated on our work, and will continue to seek out stakeholder voice throughout our planning process this summer.

And finally, congratulations to the Class of 2020. I can’t wait to see you for cap and gown and diploma pickup next weekend, on May 29 and 30.

Take care and be well.

Dr. Joylynn Pruitt-Adams