Superintendent's Welcome Message: 2021-2022 School Year

Superintendent's Welcome Message: 2021-2022 School Year

Dear Butler D53 Families and Staff,

I hope that you are enjoying the final days of summer and we look forward to welcoming you back to another very successful school year ahead. The buildings are undergoing final preparations, teachers have been welcomed back into their classrooms, and planning for various back to school activities are well underway by our building principals. We know there is much excitement about the return to school, but also continue to move forward with the health and safety of our school community as a top priority.

Last evening, the Board of Education named Mr. John Hamilton as Assistant Principal at Butler Junior High. In this new role, Mr. Hamilton will continue his responsibilities as a social studies teacher and take-on additional roles specifically in regards to district bus transportation and junior high operations. Please join me in congratulating Mr. Hamilton!

Additionally, the Board of Education reviewed and discussed the Caring Cadence Plan for Reopening Our Schools 2021-2022. I would like to thank the members of the Pandemic Awareness Committee, a Superintendent's Advisory Committee, for their thoughtful insights and guidance as this plan was finalized.

Some key components of our multi-layered approach and plan:

  • The D53 Buildings & Grounds team equipped each classroom with UV-Angel technology to reduce transmission of viral, bacterial, and fungal organisms.
  • Our Health Center will continue to offer rapid antibody, antigen, and at-home PCR tests in 2021-2022 school year along with Flu A & B rapid testing. Parents can opt-in to a screening protocol, which will occur on a weekly basis. More information will be provided by the Health Center later this week.
  • Our opt-in Test-to-Stay Strategy will test known close contacts on days one, three, five, and seven from the date of an exposure. Negative results will allow students and staff to remain in the classroom. 
  • Each student and staff member must have a signed electronic Self-Certification Form on-file with the District prior to the start of the school year. You will receive an email notification this evening from the district with a form that needs to be completed for each student attending D53 schools. 
  • Text message reminders of self-certification guidelines will continue to be sent by D53 throughout the school year.
  • Physical distancing will continue to occur in all indoor spaces.
  • In accordance with Governor Pritzker's Executive Order, masks will be worn indoors for all individuals regardless of vaccination status.
  • District 53 will continue to implement increased cleaning and disinfection schedules to reduce contact transmission.
  • The Pandemic Awareness Committee, a Superintendent's Advisory Committee, should remain active and convene as needed in the upcoming school year.

As a reminder, the Board of Education approved a plan at the June 14, 2021 Regular Meeting which allows for synchronous, parallel-remote learning provided by District 53 teachers for students under a local quarantine order or with a medical exemption. There will be no remote learning option for students with appointments, travel, non-COVID-19 illness, or other absences.

In a move toward a new normal in our plan, please see the below adaptations from last year:

  • According to the CDC, "In general, people do not need to wear masks when outdoors. CDC recommends that people who are not fully vaccinated wear a mask in crowded outdoor settings or during activities that involve sustained close contact with other people. Fully vaccinated people might choose to wear a mask in crowded outdoor settings if they or someone in their household is immunocompromised."
  • D53 will continue the cadence of last year of slowly integrating indoor and outdoor student programs, prioritizing student activities/sports first.
  • D53 will allow outdoor activities for large groups.
  • D53 will resume school-sponsored travel and field trips. 

Furthemore, the Board of Education held initial discussions of the Capital Improvements Vision for our two school buildings. I am excited about the conversations occurring within the Infrastructure Committee for future improvements and capital projects for our schools to potentially transform spaces to adapt to the needs of our 21st Century students.

Finally, the 2021-2022 Tentative Budget is on display at the District Office, and electronically in BoardDocs featured page/Library. A Public Hearing, and Board adoption of such budget is scheduled for the September 13, 2021 Board of Education Meeting.

Stay well, be safe, and enjoy the last few days of summer!

Dr. Paul O’Malley

Superintendent of Schools