Hammerschmidt Elementary School

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July 14 Update on Re-Opening of Schools

Dear District 44 Families,

I know you all are anxiously awaiting more information about the reopening of schools in District 44. I appreciate your patience as our more than 90 person Back to 44 Action Team has continued with its critical work of informing our plan. 

What I want to emphasize is that we are in a position right now of trying to hit a moving target. Things are changing daily that influence our overall plan, and this will continue to happen over the next several weeks. So instead of presenting you with a plan that is done, we are committed to presenting you with a plan that is done right -- a plan that takes into consideration the evolving nature of this situation and is rooted in what is best for our students and staff. 

How we are going about doing that is listed below.

Changing the First Day of School

In an effort to provide staff with additional days to prepare for the transition back to school, we will be moving the start of the school year for students to August 24, 2020. This means staff will still return on August 17, but with that entire week dedicated to reintegration training. 

Staff will participate in simulations to experience what teaching and learning will look with new health and safety procedures in place. This includes teaching wearing face coverings, familizaring yourselves with the enhanced cleaning processes that will be in place, following social distancing measures, having more structured work groups in place, and more. 

It is critical that our staff feels confident with these procedures in order to provide our students with the necessary social and emotional support to feel safe and comfortable in their school environments. 

Finalizing Our ReOpening Plan 

More details about these reintegration days and all other components of transitioning back to school will be included in our reopening plan. Members of our Back to 44 Action Team have been working diligently on developing this plan based on ISBE guidance, which was issued on June 23, 2020. Over the course of the next three weeks, members of our Administrative Leadership Team, LEA Leadership Team, IA Leadership Team, PTA Council and Parent Advisory Team will be reviewing this draft and providing further feedback. We intend on releasing the final plan to you all the week of August 3. 

What parents should also be aware of is that, per guidance from the Illinois State Board of Education, there will be no in-person back-to-school activities prior to the start of school. This includes events such as Welcome to Westlake. Your child’s principal will be in contact with you regarding how these events may take place virtually. 

Needing Your Input

Another reason why we are not releasing our plan until early August is so we have enough time to collect stakeholder feedback. Therefore, we ask that you complete this survey by the end of day July 21, 2020. Please take the survey based on your current needs, as know those can change. Your input will be shared with the Back to 44 Action Team and used to further inform our district’s final plan. 


Timeline Moving Forward

In the next few weeks we will continue our planning in order to refine our final re-opening plan. Below is a timeline further clarifying next steps: 


Tuesday, July 14: Staff and Parent Input Surveys Released

Tuesday, July 21: Staff and Parent Input Survey Closes

Thursday, July 23: Back to 44 Action Team Meeting: Review of Draft Plan

Tuesday, July 28: Update Presented to the Board of Education 

Week of August 3: Final Plan Released to Community

Again, I sincerely appreciate all of your patience and participation as we develop a reopening plan that best supports the health and safety of our staff and students. 



Ted Stec