New Trier Reopening and Operational Plan for 2020-2021

Executive Summary

Schools across the United States and within our region face an enormous challenge in creating individual plans to safely reopen for in-person learning. The issues to be solved have roots at the national, state, regional, community, school, and individual levels. Local control of schools is an important principal in public education. However, when faced with a national, state, and regional problem such as a pandemic, local school districts are best served by a coordination of efforts at all levels. Issues including the inability to implement more universal SARS-CoV2 testing with quick results, the lack of guidance on metrics that apply specifically to large high schools, and the wide variety of school reopening plans across our closely connected region have hamstrung local school districts in their efforts to create viable, realistic, and safe reopening plans. The lack of a coordinated larger plan limits the options available to local schools to reopen.

New Trier has devoted countless hours, days, and months to problem-solving around hundreds of topics, large and small, that must be addressed in a year that will be significantly different from any other school year. I thank all of the dozens and dozens of people who contributed to these efforts.

Our work is far from over. The comprehensive operational plan presented in this document relies on a continual assessment of our progress, scientific data, and other factors as we move between reopening steps.

Our plan has four goals: (1) keeping our students, staff, and community healthy and safe, (2) carefully laying out a path to in-person learning, (3) providing the best education possible for our students throughout the year, and (4) providing opportunities for our students to connect with faculty and other students through classroom and extracurricular activities.

Keeping our students, staff, and community healthy and safe : As a community, we need to commit to all accepted practices, rules, and regulations that have been established to reduce the spread of the disease. As a school, we cannot move between steps on our reopening ladder unless the science and data tell us it is safe to do so.

Carefully laying out a path to in-person learning: The date when schools can go back to typical in-person learning is unknown. In the meantime, the state of the virus and the science behind spread and mitigation will continue to develop, and New Trier must be ready to respond with atypical in-person learning, setting a clear path for bringing in students and staff in a safe manner.

Providing the best education possible for our students throughout the year: Our teachers have been working incredibly hard over the summer to adjust their instruction to vastly improve the remote learning experience, which will be an essential part of the entire school year unless we are able to go to 100% in-person instruction. In keeping the path open to a hybrid schedule, with some students in school and some students at home, New Trier has invested in technology upgrades and professional

development. Teaching and learning will not be the same in any of our scenarios this year, but our teachers have dedicated the time and thought to ensure it will be the best possible.

Providing opportunities for our students to connect with faculty and other students through classroom and extracurricular activities: Throughout this year we need to help our students feel connected to the school and to each other. We believe the ability to be at school is a key component of that connection and to our students' mental health. Students who participated in athletics this summer report having a great experience being on campus, even though they had to comply with new restrictions to ensure safety. We know our students want to be in school, and we will continue to work hard on their behalf to ensure they will have the most opportunities possible during this pandemic.

This document explains how New Trier High School intends to achieve the four goals of its operational plan for the 2020-2021 school year. While some details may change as circumstances change during the year, we are confident that we have a plan that creates a path to in-person learning while keeping our students, staff, and community healthy and safe.

II. Introduction

We Are All In This Together

Over the last six months we have all faced extraordinary circumstances. The novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, and the associated disease, COVID-19, have changed a great deal of our lives. As we established a plan that provides steps toward in-person instruction for students, one fact became clear. We are all in this together. We cannot be successful in a return to in-person learning unless we make a community commitment to the health and well-being of all. We all must adhere to the responsibilities laid out in this document to protect everyone's health and safety.

Comprehensive High Schools Operating In-person during a Pandemic


A large comprehensive high school is a unique environment. Many of our activities will require significant adaptation for us to operate safely during this pandemic. The general activities in a large high school do not naturally adapt to the state's restrictions for safe operations during a pandemic such as social distancing, an occupancy limit of 50 in large spaces, and efficient contact tracing. A comprehensive high school has the advantage of offering students extensive curricular options.

However, these numerous curricular options lead to thousands of unique student schedules requiring students to travel between periods and engage with a different set of peers in each period. Students also participate in classroom activities that are highly collaborative and, in many departments, hands-on. In a typical year, activities in departments such as Kinetic Wellness and Music and Theatre may require significant close contact and high respiration levels.

Large high schools also have very busy and crowded lunch periods. At the Winnetka Campus, we have 1,000 students eating each lunch period during a typical year. A key part of the culture of New Trier includes unscheduled free periods for students and the ability to see teachers in departmental offices during lunch or free periods.

A large high school also has the advantage of offering many after-school activities and sports. These offerings are an important part of students' lives. Many of these activities are highly collaborative and require close contact, such as athletics and performing arts.

Impact of Safety and Mitigation Efforts on Large High Schools

The characteristics listed above significantly complicate the solutions to holding school in person during a pandemic. Following the required safety precautions during a pandemic will alter the student and staff experience significantly. These safety precautions include: social distancing, gatherings of fewer than 50 in one space, face coverings, contact tracing, and quarantining.

Social Distancing

Social distancing requires a minimum of 6 feet of separation to the extent possible. To create this amount of social distance at New Trier's campuses, classrooms need to be set at a maximum of one-half the usual capacity. Students must face forward, collaborative activities in the classroom must be significantly altered, and one-on-one work between teachers and students must be limited. Many after-school activities, such as athletics or performing arts, need to be reworked to abide by these guidelines, and some may not be able to take place.

Occupancy Limits of 50 in Large Spaces

Spaces such as the cafeteria, theatres and gyms have a limit of 50 occupants no matter their size based on Illinois State Board of Education guidelines. Temporary barriers are not allowed to create multiple spaces. In a typical year, approximately 1,000 students are assigned to each lunch period at the Winnetka Campus. Performances in theatres range from 200-1200 occupants.

Face Coverings

Good teaching is built on good communication. Face coverings, which will be required of all students and staff in an in-person environment, restrict communication in a number of ways, such as the increased volume needed to speak through a mask and the inability to see facial expressions that are an integral part of human communication. While there are some solutions in certain situations (masks with clear plastic over the mouth to help teach the hard of hearing, for example), teaching and learning in face coverings will be difficult for all.

Contact Tracing and Quarantining

Large high schools differ from smaller high schools and elementary schools in that students take thousands of different combinations of courses. Many smaller schools and elementary schools are restricting students to "pods" to limit the number of close contacts for a student, which streamlines contact tracing and limits the potential impact of a student with COVID-19.

Large high schools cannot implement pods without significantly changing and restricting the course selections of most students. As a result, contact tracing becomes quite complicated because students must move around the school to access their courses, meaning the impact of one student with COVID-19 is potentially greater than it would be at a smaller school or one with fewer course options.

The result of this type of environment is that, under the guidance of the Cook County Department of Public Health, a significant number of students and staff will likely need to quarantine if we have a student or staff member who tests positive for COVID-19. The chart below shows the impact of quarantining when one student or teacher tests positive in each scenario:

One positive student case One positive teacher case
Students Quarantined Teachers Quarantined Students Quarantined Teachers Quarantined
100% students in classrooms 160 - 200 7-10 100 - 120 1-3
50% of students in building 80 - 100 7-10 50 -60 1-3
25% of students in building 40 - 50 7-10 25 - 30 1-3

The analysis is based on these assumptions:

  • an average student takes 6-7 classes with 20-25 students per class
  • an average student may be involved in one extracurricular activity
  • CCDPH guidance that all students and teachers would need to quarantine if they are in a class with a student who is COVID positive

Staffing the Buildings

Five factors determine whether we can adequately staff our campuses for in-person learning:

  1. The number of our staff who have personal health reasons requiring them to teach remotely all year
  2. The number of staff who have family members at home with a significant personal health risk
  3. The large number of faculty that are juggling day care needs for their children as many elementary schools in our region have chosen to go fully or partially remote for a significant period of time
  4. The number of staff who may be quarantined at any given time
  5. The number of substitutes we can bring in and the number of staff we can reassign to a classroom. Even though some teachers will be teaching remotely, an adult must be in each classroom to supervise when students are in school to follow their hybrid schedule.

Ladder to In-Person Instruction

Reasons to Work Toward In-Person Instruction

Learning is as much a social exercise as it is a cognitive one. What students and teachers value most about learning together is building relationships with one another. Those relationships are the very foundation of the New Trier experience and develop in all curricular and extracurricular spaces. In the absence of physical space, we are adapting our instruction and learning new ways to build relationships with students, but we know virtual settings are not an equal substitute for in-person instruction. This extended period of isolation has taken a toll on our students, and in-person

instruction provides an opportunity for students to connect with their peers and teachers, access academic or social-emotional resources to support their learning and mental health, engage in extracurricular activities, and find a safe place to learn and safely socialize. New Trier has developed a safe and measured approach to bringing students back to campus built around a Ladder to In-Person Instruction.

Ladder to In-Person Instruction: Graphic and Steps

The ladder, shown below, outlines the continuum of the modes of operation that the school will follow while the pandemic continues to impact our community. Decisions to move up or down the ladder are the responsibility of the Superintendent and will be made in consultation with the Board of Education. A newly established Reopening Advisory Board will provide recommendations to the Superintendent based on specific metrics. Both the Ladder Metrics and the makeup and role of the Reopening Advisory Board are explained in more detail below.

In all steps of the ladder prior to Step 6 (all back in school), some students will be learning 100 percent remotely and some teachers will be teaching 100 percent remotely. In cases where a teacher is teaching 100 percent remotely, a substitute will be in the room during hybrid learning days supervising students while the teacher instructs their classes from home.

reopening ladder

Step 1 - Remote Learning with Limited Extracurricular Participation

  • All students learning from home
  • All teachers teaching from home
    • Expectations for teaching and learning set by the Remote Learning Standards of Practice and Zoom Standards of Practice
    • Grading and assessment guidelines will be in effect, as described below
  • Essential employees on campus to maintain critical functions of facilities
  • Limited extracurricular activities may be held virtually or in person
  • Limited athletic participation may be held in accordance with IHSA guidelines

Step 2 - Remote Learning with Teachers on Campus, Limited Extracurricular Participation

  • Same as Step 1, except:
    • Some teachers will be teaching from their classrooms
    • Other teachers will continue teaching from home

Step 3 - Building to Hybrid with Gradual Return of Students to Campus

  • 10-25% of students learning in-person on campus, based on need (e.g. Special Education, 504, ELL, or social-emotional)
  • Other students learning from home
  • Some teachers teaching from their classrooms; other teachers will continue teaching from home
  • Additional staff members reporting to campus to support in-person instruction
  • Gradual expansion of extracurricular activities offered with limited in-person opportunities
  • Athletic participation in accordance with IHSA guidelines

Step 4 - Hybrid

  • Same as Step 3, except:
    • Increase to 25% of students learning in person
    • Schedule students on campus using a rotation system through the Blue/Green block schedule; parents and students will be informed of their rotation in advance

Step 5 - Hybrid

  • Same as Step 4, except:
    • Increase to 50% of students learning in person
    • Further expansion of extracurricular activities offered with in-person opportunities, as conditions permit

Step 6 - Full Reopening

  • When the state of Illinois has fully reopened
    • Remote learning no longer offered
    • All extracurricular activities operate in person

Reopening Advisory Board

The Reopening Advisory Board will help establish and review metrics to guide the decision to move up and down steps on the Reopening Ladder. This Board will be comprised of:

  • Four members of the Administration
  • Four members of the Teachers' Association
  • Two members of the Support Staff Association
  • One member of the Physical Plant Services Association
  • Two Board of Education members
  • Two parents from the Parents' Association
  • Two students from Student Council
  • Two members of the medical profession

The Reopening Advisory Board will meet on an established schedule starting the week of August 17.

Metrics - Movement Up and Down the Ladder

The metrics used by the Superintendent and Reopening Advisory Board are subject to change or be expanded, but to start will include:

  1. District COVID-19 Metrics : (1) number of cases in school; (2) average daily cases and testing positivity rate in the four main ZIP codes for the school and an expanded ZIP code region to capture student and staff mobility; (3) number of students and staff reporting COVID-19 symptoms through the District screening tool
  2. Regional COVID-19 Metrics : Illinois Department of Public Health data for Suburban Cook (Region 10), Chicago (Region 11), and Lake (Region 9)
  3. Operational Metrics : the school's contact tracing capacity, social distancing compliance, mask wearing compliance, restroom management, and lunch management
  4. Supplies and Facilities : availability of hand sanitizer, sanitizing wipes, PPE (masks, face shields/goggles, cleaning solution), and facility adaptations
  5. Staffing Levels : (1) number of staff working remotely; (2) number of absences (including those quarantined) for licensed staff, custodial staff, and support staff; and (3) availability of substitutes for remote and absent staff
  6. Student Absences : (1) number of students choosing to be 100% remote; (2) number of students quarantined; and (3) unplanned daily student absences from school days and extracurriculars
  7. Effective Instruction : the methods by which we are proposing delivering instruction are new and must be evaluated for effectiveness through (1) student engagement in remote learning and (2) impact of in-person instruction. The Reopening Advisory Board will determine methods for assessing these qualitative metrics.
  8. Current Scientific Research : The research on SARS-CoV2 and COVID-19 continues to develop rapidly. The latest findings on spread, mitigation, treatment, and health impact will inform the District's decision-making process.

Movement along the ladder is guided by an "up slow, down fast" principle. We need to move slowly up the ladder in order to: (1) ensure the facility can operate successfully at the current step, (2) not open too quickly and have to move back down the ladder, (3) allow transportation and food service to ramp up their operations. We may need to move quickly down the ladder if local metrics indicate a spread of COVID-19 in our school. Thresholds for appropriate metrics will be established for each step of the ladder through Superintendent and Board approval based on the recommendations of the Reopening Advisory Board.

The First Eight Weeks of School

The calendar of Blue, Green, and Trevian days will be available on the New Trier website , indicating which classes meet each day. The following tentative schedule has been established for the beginning of the school year:

First 8 weeks

Note: At each step, the Reopening Advisory Board will meet to review metrics and will make a recommendation about either moving to the next step or continuing for another week on the current step. The dates listed above are subject to change.

The advantages of starting with at least four weeks of remote learning include: (1) allowing teachers to fine-tune their new approach to teaching remotely, since that will be an important part of instruction on all but the last step of the ladder; (2) closely monitoring and examining facility and procedural modifications to prepare for hundreds of people in the building; (3) providing students with guidelines and expectations to reduce the number of potential COVID-19 positive students in the building; (4) allowing teachers and staff time to adjust to new procedures, technology, and facility modifications before students come into the buildings.

Daily Schedules


Students will follow the Trevian Block Schedule during the 2020-2021 school year to make the transition between steps on the Reopening Ladder easier than is possible with New Trier's traditional 9-period school day. The Trevian Block Schedule offers a typical 9-period day on Mondays and 5 blocks a day on Blue and Green Days (with a 10th block "X Block" on Green Days for extra help, staff professional development, student seminars, and other possibilities still being developed). 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 choose the 100 percent remote learning option.
  • Minimize student movement in the school on a given day by reducing periods.
  • Provide time for deeper discussions and engagement in a 70-minute block.
Trevian Block Schedule Winnetka
Trevian Block Schedule Northfield

Breakfast and Lunch

At this time, Quest Food Services will not serve breakfast or coffee items. All students will have a scheduled lunch that is at least 35 minutes. Students are encouraged to bring lunch from home.

Quest Food Services will sell only bag lunches with socially distanced pickup locations on each campus. Cash payments will not be accepted. Because our cafeteria capacity is limited to 50 students at each campus, other areas have been established for students to eat including tents and lounges/concourses. More information about these locations and lunch procedures will be shared before the first day of in-person instruction. Students should wash their hands before and after lunch and must maintain appropriate social distance while eating.

Free Periods

Students will be required to work independently or relax while maintaining social distancing during unscheduled time. Staff will monitor students to assure social distancing. More information about free period procedures will be shared before the first day of in-person instruction.

Weekly/Monthly Calendars

Weekly and monthly calendars showing days off as well as Blue, Green, and Trevian days will be available on the website . The online calendar will indicate the schedule being followed each day.

III. Health and Safety

Daily Operations


In a typical year, approximately 10% of New Trier students ride a bus to or from school. Our bus capacity will be reduced so there are no more than 50 students on each bus. Parents will be required to certify that their student is symptom-free through the online check-in process before boarding the bus. All students must wear a mask for the duration of the bus ride and should wash their hands before boarding and when arriving at school.

Screening Procedures and Entering School

Each morning, parents and staff members will receive a text message and an email reminding them to complete a brief health screening survey through the Ruvna app. The screening will ask parents to complete answer questions for their child, and staff to respond about themselves, that include the following: Do you have any COVID-related symptoms? Have you traveled to a state on the Cook County Department of Public Health's quarantine list within the last 14 days? Are you running a fever of 100.4 or higher? It is imperative that every student and staff member answer these questions honestly every day. Families and staff need to have a thermometer at home to measure temperatures daily.

If a parent or staff member answers NO to the app questions, the student or staff member will receive a message with a QR code that can be scanned at designated entrances at each campus to confirm that they are allowed to attend school that day. If they answer YES to any of these questions, the student or staff member will receive a message that they must remain at home and to contact their primary care physician and their adviser or supervisor. Students must also contact the attendance office to alert them of the absence. These procedures will be clearly outlined on our website. Only parents/guardians are allowed to complete the survey for students under the age of 18. The QR code for entry to the building is unique to each person and changes each day. A slide showing the QR code from Ruvna appears below.

Drop-off example

When they arrive at school, students and staff will enter the building from either Winnetka Road, Essex Road, or Trevian Way at the Winnetka Campus or the Happ Road or B Building gates at the Northfield Campus. Several screening stations will be set up and supervised at each of these entrances. As students and staff arrive, they will scan their QR codes and proceed into the building. Students who do not have a QR code will need to contact a parent or guardian to complete the form and have their temperature checked. If a student is unable to reach a parent or guardian to complete the form, the student will step into a separate area, and a staff member will proceed through the screening questions and determine if they may enter the building. If a student does not have a mobile device, they will be directed to check-in with a staff member who will verify that their parent has completed the form.

Daily Attendance

Maintaining timely and accurate attendance will be an important component of our health and safety plans. When a student is home sick, it is important that we know whether that student is experiencing any COVID-related symptoms. Therefore, we are working to establish a centralized attendance reporting system. When a student needs to miss school, parents will complete an absence form that will be available on the website. This form will ask them for the reason for the absence and additional questions regarding symptoms if the student is missing school due to illness. The student will then be marked as excused for the day. This is a change from a typical year; a call or email to the adviser will no longer suffice for reporting an absence. The online form must be used instead. The Health Services Office will review a report of students missing school due to illness to determine if any families must be contacted for possible cases of COVID-19. In such cases, parents will be encouraged to contact their primary care physician, and that the student must remain home until they meet the requirements for returning to school or have a note from a doctor stating that the student is clear to return. (See Procedures for a Potential COVID-19 Case below.)

Face Coverings

Research has consistently shown that one of the most effective measures we can take to protect our own and others' health is to wear a mask. Students and staff are required to wear masks that cover their mouth and nose while in the buildings at each campus or at any time that it may be difficult to maintain a 6 foot separation from others. Students who cannot wear a mask must remain at home and participate in remote learning. Students with individualized education plans or specific health plans must work with the Special Education Department to develop a plan for increasing the time during which they are able to tolerate wearing a mask. Students may only be on campus for the period of time during which they are able to wear a mask. Students who refuse to wear a mask while in school will face disciplinary consequences and will be sent home. Students and staff may remove their masks while eating but must maintain 6 feet of distance from others. We will designate outside spaces in which students and staff may take a break from wearing a mask while maintaining social distance.

All students and staff members will be provided with two cloth masks at the beginning of the year. In addition, students and staff may wear a mask of their own choosing as long as it meets the requirements for face coverings from the Illinois Department of Public Health and is in alignment with our rules for appropriate dress. The school will have a supply of disposable masks available at locations throughout the building. New Trier has also ordered masks with clear windows over the mouth for use by language teachers and staff working with students with hearing, speech, and language needs. Additional personal protective equipment will also be provided for staff working with students who have specific needs in our ELS and Transitions programs, such as face shields to be worn with a mask, gloves and protective gowns. N-95 masks are not recommended for general use in schools. Guidance on face coverings can be found at CDC Face Covering Guidance and IDPH Mask Guidance .

Classrooms, Hallways, Stairwells

Classroom Seating

  • Maximum classroom capacity approximately 50% to allow for social distancing
  • Unused desks and tables are labeled "do not use/sit"

Hallway and Stairwell Signage

  • Signage will remind students and staff about social distancing and provide information about new capacities for workspaces and about new procedures, such as walking to the right in all hallways.

Water Bottle Filling Stations

  • Drinking fountains have been disabled, and students are required to use reusable water bottles. 30 additional water bottle filling stations have been installed.


  • To allow for social distancing, restrooms are limited to approximately ½ capacity. Students will be encouraged to use the restroom during unscheduled time or class as needed to reduce the number of students in restrooms during passing periods.

Hand Sanitizer Stations

  • Hand sanitizing stations will be available at each entrance and hand sanitizer will be available in all instructional spaces.

Faculty Offices

Faculty offices will be adjusted to reduce the maximum number of occupants to provide 6 feet of social distancing when possible. Students will be asked to meet with teachers virtually, in a socially distanced manner in the classroom before or after class, or in other areas of the campus that allow for social distancing. Approximately half of our staff and faculty members will be assigned temporary offices in other areas of the campuses.

Procedures for a Potential COVID-19 Case

Our procedures begin with a strict adherence to remaining at home when exhibiting one or more COVID-related symptoms and/or having a fever of 100.4 or greater. Students or staff members who experience any of these symptoms should contact their primary care physician for evaluation and the New Trier attendance office or supervisor. The attendance clerk or supervisor will then alert Health Services that there is a potential case of COVID-19. Staff members or students without a doctor's clearance must isolate at home for at least 10 days and may not return until there has been a reduction of their symptoms, they have been fever-free for at least 24 hours without fever-reducing medicine, and they have a doctor's note indicating that they may return. Students and staff members may return to school sooner with a doctor's note indicating that the student or staff member does not have COVID-19. If a student or staff member receives a positive COVID-19 test, they must immediately notify Health Services, or 847-784-7513 (Northfield)/ 847-784-2111 (Winnetka).

Response to a Positive COVID Test

When we receive a report that a student has been diagnosed with COVID-19, Health Services will work in coordination with the Cook County Department of Public Health (CCDPH) to complete contact tracing and determine who must be quarantined and tested. We will contact the student or staff member to determine with whom they may have been in close contact and pull class lists and rosters for any extracurricular organizations. Health Services will contact all families whose students may have come into close contact with the student or staff member with a confirmed case of

COVID-19. Close contact is defined as being within six feet for 15 minutes or more during the two days prior to illness onset and/or a positive test specimen collection. The CCDPH will also contact those individuals who may have been in close contact outside of the school day. Individuals in close contact will need to quarantine at home for at least 14 days and may also need to be tested. These students or staff members may only return to school after 14 days if they have remained symptom free and have a doctor's note clearing them to return. If students are well enough, they may continue to engage in their learning remotely throughout the quarantine period.

The latest chart delineating the procedures for cases of COVID-19 and contract tracing with close contacts is provided below.

COVID-19 Chart

District Responsibilities

Implementing the Plan with Fidelity

It is everyone's responsibility to ensure that our health and safety plan is implemented with fidelity. We must remind each other when we see someone violating the plan. In the hallways, common spaces, and classrooms, it is every staff member's responsibility to remind students of face covering and social distancing requirements. These rules exist to limit the spread of the virus and protect the health of our school community. If students continue to violate these rules after being reminded, they will face disciplinary consequences, including and up to possible suspension and removal from in-person learning.

Adjusting the Plan when Needed

Guidance from IDPH is updated weekly to account for our growing understanding of COVID-19 and effective strategies for preventing the spread of the virus. As a result, our plans will likely adjust over time. New Trier's Health Services Department is in nearly daily communication with CCDPH and the administration closely monitors guidance from IDPH, ISBE, the CDC, and CCDPH.


New Trier is committed to transparent, two-way communication with parents, students, and staff to assure that our health and safety procedures and any changes to our learning environment are easily understood. Email, Canvas, the New Trier website , text communication, and social media channels will be used to quickly convey information. We will rely on guidance from the Cook County Department of Public Health to communicate any cases of COVID-19, including direct outreach to anyone considered a "close contact" by the CCDPH and broad communication to students, parents, and staff that protects the individual privacy of any person who tests positive.

Student Responsibilities

We Are All In This Together

As we move forward toward in-person instruction, New Trier aims to provide an environment that enables student learning and provides a safe place for students during the public health emergency of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is vital that every community member understands how interconnected we all are. A commitment to continuing in-person instruction means an understanding of our shared responsibility. Thus, all students must know, understand, agree to, and abide by the rules and guidelines established by New Trier.

Required Education

All students will be required to complete COVID-19 Cavas training modules. These modules include information about COVID-19, health and safety guidelines, and clear expectations for how students must conduct themselves to minimize risk of spreading the virus. The modules cover a variety of critical topics for students such as COVID-19 contact tracing, social distancing guidelines, face coverings, travel policies, and more. Students should follow all guidelines and orders from public health officials related to the spread of coronavirus while on and off campus. Our ability to remain open for instruction and extracurricular opportunities is a direct result of their compliance with health guidelines.

Trevians Care for Trevians Pledge

It is important that all students understand, acknowledge, and agree to the rules and guidelines that will be in place in the fall. These rules and guidelines may be updated and revised as we receive additional guidance from local, state, and federal government agencies. Students and their parents/guardians must read and sign the Trevians Care for Trevians Pledge to attend school. By agreeing to this pledge, each student declares their personal determination to do what they must to support a return to in-person experience that is safe and sustainable. Students and parents/guardians are expected to sign acknowledgement of the pledge and submit it electronically.


Students who are unwilling or unable to comply with the guidelines in the Trevian Pledge should not come to campus and will engage in remote learning.

Family Responsibilities

We Are All In This Together

Parents play a critical role in the education of their child at New Trier. Parents are the experts on their children. As we adjust to our new "normal" parents play a vital role in helping children feel safe and secure during these times. New Trier is giving families the choice to send their child to school or to keep them at home. There is no easy or clear option, and all families must take their own circumstances into consideration. We support our parents and your decision.

If your child chooses in-person learning, we ask that you help prepare your child for the changes they will experience such as separated desks facing forward, partitions, no sharing of items, wearing a mask, teachers not being able to high-five them, and no traditional dances, pep rallies, or other large gatherings. We also ask for your help monitoring their activities off-campus and reinforcing restrictions against large parties and behavior that puts them at risk. The ability to continue with in-person instruction relies on safe choices by students on and off campus.

If your child chooses to learn remotely, we ask that you help us make sure they have all they need to maintain their academic responsibilities and to stay connected to the school and their peers. Let your child's adviser know if they need help in any area. Planning and flexibility are key as we continue to amend our schedules.

Daily Student Certification

New Trier has new policies in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19. All parents must complete a daily health screening for their child (see above) each morning. Students will need to provide certification that the screening has been completed before they can enter the building.


Choice for 100% Remote or Hybrid Learning

Parents/Guardians are being asked to decide how their child will return to New Trier High School in the fall, with a 100% remote learning option available at the beginning of each quarter. Those students who do not choose 100% remote will be placed on the hybrid schedule, which will offer more in-person instruction as New Trier moves up steps on its Reopening Ladder. We know this is a difficult choice, and your family's unique circumstances may put parents at odds with the choice their child might like to make. We also know that families must weigh the relative health risks of COVID-19 transmission from in-person instruction against the educational, social-behavioral, and emotional considerations of all-remote instruction. Please refer to the CDC decision-making considerations and CDC Back to School Decision Making Tool for more information.

Symptoms and COVID Testing

Parents must immediately notify Health Services at or 847-784-7513 (Northfield)/847-784-2111 (Winnetka) if their student or an immediate family member tests positive for COVID-19. This is one of the most critical factors in New Trier's ability to remain open for in-person learning. While our new absence reporting form will give us more information to help track and contain potential COVID-19 infections, we MUST know of every exposure that may occur involving our students and staff. Please consult the Health and Safety section of this plan for more specifics on reporting COVID-19 cases.

Students also must stay home if they have a fever of 100.4 or higher or any of the symptoms of COVID-19. We know this may mean students may stay home more often than they would in a normal school year as we take the highest level of precaution. Students who feel well enough may still access remote learning on days when they stay home from school, assuring they can keep up with their school work. As always, our advisers and teachers will help students who are too ill to work so they do not fall behind.

Travel Restrictions and Quarantine

Travel increases the risk of exposure to the coronavirus for our students, staff and community. The CDC has issued Level 3 Warnings - Avoid Nonessential Travel- for the vast majority of countries and territories. The CDC also continues to discourage domestic travel, CDC domestic travel .

Cook County Travel Order

As of the issuance of this plan, the Cook County Department of Public Health recommends a 14-day quarantine for anyone entering suburban Cook County after visiting states with a high incidence of COVID-19 infections for more than 24 hours. The list of states is updated weekly. Students and staff who visit a high-incident state for more than 24 hours MUST self-quarantine and inform the school they will be remote learning during this time. No exceptions. Additional information about staff guidelines will be provided separately.

New Trier Travel Restrictions

All school travel, international and domestic, is prohibited until further notice and should not be planned or scheduled at this time. This applies to school-sponsored trips and staff professional development. Additionally, field trips will not be offered until further notice. We are encouraging staff to explore creative options for alternative work and collaboration.

IV. Instruction


We value the power of physical space and personal interaction as critical elements in the learning process. In these spaces teachers foster relationships and engage students in the teaching and learning process. But in the absence of physical space and personal interactions as we knew them in pre-pandemic learning, well-designed online learning should promote the same values of relationships, inquiry, compassion, creativity, communication, and collaboration as our traditional classrooms. The moment calls upon each of us in the school community to adapt and translate familiar routines to unfamiliar circumstances. Remote learning offers teachers an opportunity to adapt their core teaching principles to a new environment in the service of students.

New Trier learned much from our emergency remote learning experience last spring. That experience and surveys of parents, students, and teachers has helped guide New Trier's Curriculum and Instruction Reopening Committee to develop expectations for a new remote learning environment in 2020-2021. Since then, teachers, in collaboration with each other, instructional technology specialists, and administrators, have been preparing for a new, dynamic remote learning experience. Throughout the summer, teachers have engaged in extensive professional development in instructional technology and curriculum development to adapt to remote or hybrid environments, and also to teaching in a block schedule.

Instructional methods will vary from course to course, but all remote instruction will be meaningful and designed to the standards established in the Remote Learning Standards of Practice and Zoom Standards of Practice and will keep students engaged, connected to each other and their teachers, and on pace complete the full curriculum for each course, no matter the learning environment.

Standards of Practice Infographic 6-3-2020

Remote Teaching & Learning Spring 2020 vs. Fall 2020

Remote learning this fall will look significantly different from spring 2020. The table below summarizes the major changes. What will not change is our commitment to teaching the whole child and being flexible and compassionate to students, families, and each other while also being resilient and innovative together.

Spring 2020 Fall 2020
Curriculum Reduced curriculum and limited introduction of new content Teaching a full year's worth of curriculum; engaged in a rich and rigorous learning experience
Assessments Mostly formative assessments; no major tests/projects; no final exams Adapted to a remote/hybrid environment; emphasis on demonstration of student learning and thinking; includes formative and summative assessments
Grades "Do no educational harm" guidance meant grades could not go lower than third quarter grades Normal grading policies will be in effect; teachers will exhibit flexibility and compassion in light of individual circumstances
Online Courses (Canvas) Quick pivot to Canvas; did not require standard expectations for design or usage Online courses designed to Standards of Practice; extensive planning and preparation; consistent usage
Preparation Quick pivot to online instruction; minimal ramp-up preparation Extensive preparation and professional development


-Student Contact

Varied levels of contact via Zoom or other communication Consistent, high level of contact via Zoom and other communication tools
Instructional Mode Variations between experiences with instructional strategies and synchronous and asynchronous; emergency remote learning Consistent and improved online instructional strategies, guided by Standards of Practice and supported with extensive professional development in online teaching and learning

Remote Learning

A robust remote learning course is the foundation of each scenario along the Ladder to Reopening. In the absence of a physical space, a well-designed online course:

  • facilitates learning at a pace, rigor, and richness necessary to meet the learning outcomes of the course.
  • promotes the same values of relationships, inquiry, compassion, creativity, communication, and collaboration as our traditional classrooms.

Delivering instruction in a fully remote environment will include asynchronous delivery, where students access learning at different times, and synchronous instruction, where teaching and learning occurs together, simulatenously. Teachers will use a combination of instructional modes designed to meet the learning objectives, as illustrated below.

Model fully online

There are three critical elements essential to designing a robust remote learning course:

  1. Implement the Remote Learning Standards of Practice
  2. Adhere to the Zoom Standards of Practice
  3. Adopt the Student Workflow Guidelines

To build robust online courses, teachers will engage in ongoing, targeted professional development aligned to each of the three critical elements of a remote learning course.

Hybrid Learning

Hybrid learning is a bridge between all-remote instruction and full in-person instruction. Teaching and learning using streaming technology has three key benefits for students and teachers:

  1. Efficiency - Teachers do not need to plan different lesson plans for students on campus vs. students at home
  2. Effectiveness - Teachers deliver quality instruction with technology resources, supported by professional development and a robust learning management system
  3. Equity- Students access the same curriculum and quality of instruction, whether learning in-person or remotely

To ensure hybrid learning is efficient, effective, and equitable, teachers will:

  • Design robust online Canvas courses using the Canvas Design Checklist
  • Implement the Remote Learning Standards of Practice
  • Adhere to the Zoom Standards of Practice
  • Employ high-quality technology tools
  • Engage in ongoing professional development for technology and hybrid and remote instruction
  • Prepare for smooth transitions between remote and hybrid models

The success of hybrid learning depends upon building a robust online remote learning course. The key principle underlying hybrid learning is that it looks more like an online course enhanced by in-person instruction rather than a traditional in-person learning experience with some online components.

As illustrated in the graphic below, teachers conduct instruction simultaneously to a small number of socially-distanced students in their classroom while streaming to the other students in a remote location. This form of hybrid teaching provides options for students who cannot come to class for health reasons or have elected to learn remotely, and allows for socially distant classrooms by rotating students on the Blue/Green block schedule.

Hybrid with a camera in the classroom

Hybrid with a camera image

New Trier's hybrid learning model will transition students with the greatest needs (students with IEP, 504 Plans, ELL, or other high needs) into school first, where they can benefit from in-person instruction and social interaction action with teachers and peers, and access to resources and learning support. In this scenario, 10-25% of students in one course will attend class on an assigned day, with the other students tuning in remotely via Zoom. As outlined in the Zoom Standards of Practice, we do not expect students who are at home to spend full class periods on Zoom; teachers will offer breakout sessions, independent tasks, and other options to prevent those students learning remotely from experiencing "Zoom fatigue."

Grading and Assessment

Grading Guidance

Last spring the Illinois State Board of Education established a "do no educational harm" grading principle to ensure remote learning during a pandemic did not adversely affect students' grades. Through guidance from ISBE, schools and districts may return to traditional grading practices on assignments, assessments, and final class grades during the 2020-2021 school year, but state officials also recommend flexibility and empathy in response to students' varying situations in remote or hybrid learning. To that end, New Trier will implement the following grading policy and guidelines.


New Trier will return to normal grading policies in 2020-2021. Formative and summative assessments will be given; grades count and may go up and down, depending on the degree of demonstrated student learning.

Recognizing that circumstances are still quite extraordinary and impact students, families, and teachers very differently, all grading practices and policies will acknowledge the following principles:

  • Student learning, knowledge, and growth determine final grades;
  • Feedback is central to the learning process;
  • Equity, flexibility, and compassion inform decisions about engagement, assessments, demonstration of learning, due dates, etc.


  • Use a standard system of A through F;
    • Calculate grades primarily on student achievement and/or growth in relation to course outcomes;
  • Specific categories like homework, participation, and formative assessments should be low-stakes and have a low impact on grades but a high impact on learning;
  • Provide feedback that is timely, actionable, and specific;
  • Communicate student progress and grades on a regular basis;
    • Establish a reasonable and equitable policy to support the timely completion of assignments, while recognizing that an individual student's circumstances may require degrees of flexibility;
  • Intervene and communicate early to support students who are struggling to meet learning objectives, to engage in course materials or class, or to complete assignments.

Assessment Guidance

Testing environments in a remote or hybrid setting will look different from pre-pandemic learning; however, teachers will continue to assess student learning and hold students accountable for content knowledge and skill development. In many cases, teachers are currently using innovative assessments or projects that are easily translated to a remote or hybrid environment. In other cases, some assessments will need to be redesigned to match the learning conditions. Whether students are learning remotely or in-person, they will have the same opportunities to demonstrate their learning through assessments.


Formative and summative assessments will be given during the 2020-2021 school year, including end-of-semester experiences.

The research in assessment indicates that feedback is the most powerful driver of student achievement (Hattie 2012). Formative feedback cycles should be part of any unit of study that culminates in a summative assessment. In order for teachers to provide vital feedback to students, students should engage in course material and submit work in a timely manner. Although assessments may differ from those given in pre-pandemic learning, and will vary across courses and departments, all assessments should give students an opportunity to demonstrate their learning, knowledge, and thinking.

Summative assessment instruments used in pre-pandemic learning may not be viable or accessible given the circumstances. Departments, course committees, and teachers are empowered to redesign assessments and develop alternative assessments to meet their curricular objectives and student needs, and aligned to the instructional environment, according to the following guidelines:

  • Assess student learning and hold students accountable for content knowledge and skill development;
  • Adapt or redesign assessments to match the unique remote or hybrid environment;
  • Utilize diverse assessment instruments defined in the Remote Learning Standards of Practice ;
    • Engage in professional development to support experimentation, develop new skills, learn how to design and administer alternative assessments.

Special Education

Successful service to students with disabilities in anticipation of, and during, transition to in-person instruction remains dependent upon ongoing collaboration and communication between New Trier, the Board of Education, the Administration, the Reopening Advisory Board, legal counsel, faculty and staff, parents and guardians, and the North Suburban Special Education District (NSSED)/Northwest Suburban Special Education Organization (NSSEO) regarding good faith efforts toward innovative approaches to ensure safety while meeting the unique needs of all students, regardless of their disability. A Special Education Reopening Committee representative of support staff, teachers, coordinators and administrators has been actively planning and will continue to adjust the plan throughout the year as our goal is to design how to best deliver services to students in our environment during this time as we work to create positive outcomes for students.

The chart below illustrates the various steps and the progression of in-person instruction for students with IEPs.

Special Ed Chart Reopening

Additional information regarding up to date special education information can be found on the Backt o School Page on our website.

Student Services

A high priority is being placed on providing in-person instruction for students who have Individualized Education Programs (IEPs), 504 Plans, and/or who receive English language supports when building an equitable schedule for Hybrid Learning Days.

The school has been documenting requests for priority scheduling and is taking all requests into account. The process for scheduling students is multi-faceted. It involves a delicate balance of meeting the needs of other students and limiting the number of students in a space to maintain safety. Once students receive their schedules, they will follow their regular schedule based on their group assignment. The other two days, they will be in school and assigned to a designated space where they will log into their classes and participate remotely. Students will be supported/supervised by a certified teacher or teaching assistant.

The chart below illustrates the progression of in-person instruction for students identified as needing priority for in-person instruction.

Student Group

Step 3

Teacher- In Classroom Student- In School

(10-25% in-person)

Step 4

Teacher- In Classroom Student- In School

(25% in-person)

Step 5

Teacher- In Classroom Student- In School

50% In-person

Identified Students/

Pre-identified 504 students (disengaged, emotionally impacted)

● Students will attend the classes on their schedule for in-person instruction throughout the day at least twice a week. Based on their individualized plan for supplementary in-person instruction, the student will attend class virtually in an identified space within the school with the supervision of either a certified teacher/teacher assistant.

504 Plans

New Trier remains committed to providing students who have 504 plans the accommodations listed in their plans whether we are in a full, hybrid or remote model during the 2020-2021 school year. We will continue to communicate these plans to our teaching and support staff so they can implement these accommodations during any of our reopening scenarios.

504 Plans for Incoming Freshmen (Class of 2024)

504 plans for incoming freshmen will be sent home in August prior to the start of the school year. Freshmen studentSupplies and Facilitiess with 504 plans will receive accommodations listed in their plans as they pertain to the full, hybrid, or remote model during the 2020-2021school year.

504 Articulation Meetings

504 articulation meetings with New Trier staff at the sender schools were not possible this year due to school closure. Sender schools have shared information on each student that had a 504 plan in 8th grade. A New Trier 504 plan will be created for those students based on sender school recommendations during the summer. Parents should contact the 504 coordinator at New Trier after they have received the plan if they have any questions.

504 Plans for Current Sophomores, Juniors, & Seniors

Students with current New Trier 504 plans will continue to receive the accommodations listed in their plan as they pertain to the full, hybrid or remote model during the 2020-2021 school year.

Social and Emotional Support for Students

At each stage of the reopening plan, students are likely to require varying levels of social and emotional support. For most students, connecting with their adviser and other staff members will provide the care and compassion that they need as they navigate the challenges of the year. For students who need more individualized or group support, we will continue to work to provide that support within the restrictions of each reopening stage. We will also continue to work with community mental health agencies to facilitate connections with these services for our families who need ongoing therapy.

Finally, we will continue to identify students who are struggling to connect during periods of remote learning. Recently, the Illinois Department of Child and Family Services and the Illinois State Board of Education have issued joint guidance on how best to conduct wellness checks for students who have become disconnected from school during remote instruction. We will work with families to determine what supports are needed for these students and the correct level of in-person instruction.

IV. Conclusion

Until the state of Illinois reaches a full reopening and New Trier can move to the final step on its Reopening Ladder, the 2020-2021 school year will not look or feel like a typical school year, regardless of whether students are learning remotely or in-person. Every step on the ladder will require review and difficult choices for administrators, the Board of Education, faculty, staff, students, and families. We must, above all, remember that we are all in this together. We have developed a plan that provides a path to in-person instruction based on specific metrics and a collaborative process with our Reopening Advisory Board. There is no such thing as a perfect plan in these times, and we may need to change course more than once throughout the year. We are confident, however, that we have established a means to protect the health and safety of our students, staff, and community while creating the best possible opportunities for our students to have a successful, fulfilling year of growth and learning.