What will the first few weeks look like? Will we start remote, hybrid, or all in school?
At the July 13 Board of Education meeting, New Trier announced a potential plan to "start smart" with a gradual return to in-person learning with a likely hybrid learning scenario for the fall. You can learn more by reading Superintendent Paul Sally's July 13 Board of Education memo .
The District is continually assessing its planning based on local factors and guidance from state health and education officials. The District's comprehensive reopening plan will be shared at the August 12 Board of Education Special Meeting . This plan will include clear steps toward reopening and what factors the District will take into account to be able to move between these steps.
Why aren't you committing to bringing all students in right away?
We do not yet know if we can keep students and staff safe when all students are in the building. Classrooms are only one part of the plan in a large, comprehensive high school. We also have hallways and large common areas. At this point, given health and safety guidelines such as social distancing, we are unable to have all students back at the same time. As our procedures develop and new guidelines are issued, we will be able to more directly assess how many students we can have safely in the building. That information, combined with the current outbreak pattern in our area, will guide the decision of expanding or contracting the number of students allowed in the building.
If we start with a hybrid schedule (students switching between remote and in-school instruction on a set schedule), how will that work for my students?
At this point, we are adjusting our scheduling models to plan for a gradual process where eventually half of students could be in school while the other half access their classes remotely to ensure that no classes are overloaded on any day. The size of our school and the complexity of our offerings has made this a time-consuming process. Students will be assigned to different cohorts that will rotate between in-school and remote instruction on a regular schedule when conditions allow New Trier to fully implement a hybrid plan. These cohorts are: Cohort A (last names beginning with A-K, in school on Tuesdays and Wednesdays), Cohort B (last names beginning with L-Z, in school on Thursdays and Fridays), Cohort C (some students with IEPs or other special needs specifically identified to attend school in person Tuesdays-Fridays), and Cohort D (100 percent remote learning). Students in the same family will have the same attendance group unless one student has elected all-remote and another has elected hybrid. Trevian Days (most Mondays) will be all-remote to start.
Can a parent keep their student home and just learn remotely?
Yes. Parents who wish to opt out of the hybrid schedule and have their student learn 100 percent remotely for first quarter (August 26 - October 30) must fill out this form by August 15. This option will be offered at the beginning of each quarter. We will be as flexible as we can be, but we need to ensure that we do not overwhelm our school procedures and practices.
What health and safety measures are you implementing?
- Masks - Per State Board of Education guidance, we will be requiring all people in the building to wear masks except when playing a musical instrument or eating.
- Symptom checks - The State Board of Education is still developing their guidance. We will be implementing some type of certification for temperature and other symptoms. Students who feel sick should stay home, and the quality of our remote learning will allow them to keep learning if they are able.
- Cleaning - We have enhanced our cleaning procedures to meet or exceed CDC and IDPH guidelines. Classrooms and other common areas will be cleaned and sanitized at least once per day with approved disinfectants. Restrooms, health services areas, and kinetic wellness equipment will receive even more frequent cleaning.
- Social Distance - The science continues to develop, but we will begin the school year by implementing a six-foot social distance requirement in our classrooms, hallways, cafeterias, and offices. The hallways and stairwells will have clear designations and will either be one way or will be "stay to the right" as on roadways.
- Classrooms - All classrooms have been set up to provide six feet of space between students. All students and staff must wear face coverings at all times in classrooms. Classrooms will have Plexiglass barriers to use when conferring with students closer than six feet. Every classroom will have easily accessible hand sanitizer and cleaning materials. Students and teachers will be responsible for cleaning their desks and chairs prior to occupying their seat. Teachers will limit the number of objects handled by more than one person and are responsible for cleaning any instructional materials they are providing that will be used by someone in the class. See the Air Circulation and Ventilation questions below for specifics about air handling in the building. Initially New Trier was exploring opening windows when possible, but our mechanical and air quality experts have advised us that MERV-13 air filters and our existing fresh-air systems are preferable to opening windows in systems with mechanical ventilation, which can introduce unfiltered, unconditioned air and unwanted drafts.
- Restrooms/Water Fountains - Restroom use will be limited to approximately one-half the fixtures to provide for social distancing. Those waiting for restrooms must socially distance per provided signage. Use of water fountains will be limited to refilling of water bottles.
- Staff Offices - Workstations in all offices will be six feet apart from other workstations and have plexiglass partitions as needed. Student access to staff offices will be severely limited and directions for access must be clearly posted for students, staff, and visitors. Students will be encouraged to schedule virtual appointments to receive support from teachers.
- Quarantining - We are developing procedures in collaboration with the Illinois Department of Public Health on how we will implement quarantining for students and staff who are diagnosed with COVID-19 or have close contact with someone who is later diagnosed with COVID-19. Guidance is still being developed by the health agencies. Students who travel outside of Illinois must abide by the Cook County Department of Public Health's 14-day quarantine upon return from any state listed with a high incidence of COVID-19 infections. That list is updated weekly and can be found here.
- Visitors - Per state guidance, we will severely restrict access to campus for anyone other than students and staff. As many parent meetings as feasible will be held remotely, and we are developing a procedure for parents who need to drop off items at school so they do not enter the buildings.
What adjustments are being made to your HVAC systems at both campuses to increase fresh air circulation, as recommended by health experts?
MERV-13 filters are being installed in all district air supply units to reduce the possibility of virus spread through the HVAC system. Outside air ventilation rates are being increased to the extent possible for the existing equipment. Since the buildings will not be fully occupied, the ventilation rate will be more than double the minimum required amount. We also are conducting indoor air quality tests to make sure our spaces meet/exceed the criteria for building ventilation.
What other precautions are being taken to reduce stale air and increase fresh air movement? Will classroom windows be opened? What about classrooms without windows?
Generally, windows should not be used to supplement the mechanical ventilation systems. Outside air introduced through these openings is not treated (temperature, humidity, filtration) and would therefore reduce the effectiveness of the existing ventilation and control systems. Unwanted drafts may also be introduced which may increase the possibility of person-to-person spread of the virus. All classrooms have a significant amount of outside area circulated through the HVAC system. The new building at the Winnetka Campus uses 100% outside air and systems in other parts of the campuses are being optimized to include more outside air. In the older portion of the Winnetka Campus and throughout the Northfield Campus, air does not travel from room to room; the air is treated in air handlers that will have MERV-13 filters for recirculation within each room.
How will you decide if you need to go all remote?
Primarily, we will follow the guidance of ISBE and IDPH. However, our local conditions might require us to close before the state says we must, as happened in the spring.
Why change from the nine-period day for the 2020-2021 school year?
The Trevian Block Schedule is being adopted for 2020-2021 to make the transition between various phases easier as compared to a nine-period school day. New Trier's Trevian Block Schedule offers a typical 9-period day on Mondays and 5 periods a day on Blue and Green Days (with a 10th period "X Block" TBD on Green Days). New Trier decided on this schedule in order to:
- Ensure students would not have to give up elective classes or student supports because of the change of schedule.
- Ease the transition from one mode of operation to another (in-school, hybrid, remote). This is easier with a block schedule than with a 9-period daily schedule
- Ensure a consistent experience for those students who need to learn remotely all year long.
- Minimize student movement in the school on a given day by reducing periods.
- Provide time for deeper discussions and engagement in 70-minute class periods.
More information about the rationale and implementation of the new schedule can be found on the Trevian Block Schedule page .
When will students receive their schedules?
New Trier needs to adjust its master schedule to the new block schedule and to anticipate a possible hybrid learning scenario with half of students in school on any given day. Given that, schedules will come out a bit later than they usually do. We expect to send schedules home by the second week of August at the latest. The book sale will be online, and book information will be included with schedules.
How is New Trier coordinating with the township elementary schools?
The Superintendents from New Trier Township meet every week to share the latest plans and discuss the latest guidance from the Illinois State Board of Education and various health organizations. The discussions are very helpful for everyone since the situation is so fluid. Each elementary district has unique features that impact their own planning. New Trier families will be experiencing slightly different plans community by community. We know we will need to be flexible with our families, especially early on, as they adjust to the schedule. All districts will have winter and spring break at the same time.