Wilmette, News

Record Roundup: School in the time of COVID-19

A look at the numbers and safety measures of the schools in New Trier Township

As the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact the educational landscape, The Record is keeping tabs on the latest updates from your local schools. 

Below you will find the latest information from New Trier Township schools, obtained by The Record via interviews and submissions. 

New Trier High School District 203 (Winnetka, Wilmette, Glencoe, Northfield and Kenilworth)
Sources: Communications Specialist Lia Kass and www.newtrier.k12.il.us/RAB/

Learning platform: Hybrid learning, Step 3.
Only “specialized” populations are currently on campus for in-person learning, according to Lia Kass, a spokesperson for the district. Step 4 begins Oct. 6, when in-person instruction for 25 percent of students each day will begin as planned. Kass said students who have opted for hybrid learning will generally attend school for two consecutive days, a Blue Day/Green pairing, every two weeks. 

Classroom size: Not yet applicable; 6-8 during Step 4 
When NTHS hits Step 4 Oct. 6, a typical classroom will have 6-8 students, or half-capacity, Kass said. Students must face forward, collaborative activities in the classroom must be altered, and one-on-one work between teachers and students is limited, according to the district’s plan. 

COVID-19 cases: 4 current (3 students, 1 staff member), 0 contracted in district 
While students and staff in the district have tested positive, none of the cases have been linked to New Trier High School, Kass said. The district of nearly 4,000 students has a 0.57 percent quarantine rate (23) among students and 1.11 percent (8) among staff.

Protocols: Wearing a well-fitting mask properly at all times while on campus; staying home if any risk factors (COVID-19 symptoms, recent travel to at-risk areas or participation in “higher risk activities as designated by the IDPH); screening forms; completion of COVID-19 course; adhering to Trevian Pledge about being diligent and honest about COVID-19-related matters.

A display on the athletic-field fenceline at Loyola Academy. | PHOTO SUBMITTED

Loyola Academy (Wilmette)
Sources: Director of Public Relations Robin Hunt and www.goramblers.org/coronavirus-information

Learning platform: Hybrid model (500 students in the building at a time). 
Under this model, Loyola is dividing students from two grade levels in half and they report on campus. The other students learn remotely. Students attend in-school classes approximately once every four days, Hunt said. 

Classroom size: <15 students.
Classroom sizes at Loyola range, but are generally less than 15 students, Hunt said. 

COVID-19 cases: At least 6 (all year), 0 contracted in district
While Hunt said no COVID-19 cases have been linked to the school, Loyola school closed down for two weeks in late August after six students reportedly tested positive for COVID-19. Sixty-three students were in quarantine for issues related to that exposure, travel or symptoms. As of publication time, The school did not confirm if there’s any active cases among staff members or students. 

Protocols: A new nurse’s station has been constructed outside and adjacent to the main entrance for evaluation of individuals who do not pass temperature screening/symptom checks upon entry or who feel ill during the school day; administration followup on every sick absence — in partnership with the Cook County Department of Public Health; temperature screenings and symptoms checks; mandated face coverings while on campus; social distancing practices; disinfected desks between each class period; increased cleaning of all high-touch surfaces; a modified flow of hallway and stairwell traffic; increased utilization of outdoor space, including the addition of tented outdoor space; a reconfiguration of the cafeteria and student center; students spread out during lunch to one of seven approved locations; a reduction of gatherings and a no-visitors policy; and increased signage and health and safety reminders around campus; plexiglass barriers and personal protective equipment used throughout the building; new, tech-forward air flow and filters.  

Avoca School District 37 (Wilmette, Northfield and Glenview)
Sources: Superintendent Kaine Osburn and www.avoca37.org

Learning platform: Hybrid learning
Approximately 70 percent of families have selected the hybrid platform, according to Osburn. All students have remote learning on Mondays, while hybrid students then come to school on either Monday and Wednesday or Tuesday and Thursday. When not on-site, hybrid students engage in remote learning.

Class size: 6-12
Kindergarten and first grade class sizes on-site are between 12-13 students. Grades 2-8 class sizes on-site are between six-12 students. 

COVID-19 cases: 3 all year, 0 contracted in district 
The Cook County Department of Public Health has concluded that none of the cases relating to D37 are linked to school, Osburn said. 

Protocols: The district’s full protocols can be found in its Resource Protocol Guide and its Return to School Guide further details its safety measures.   
“Our contact tracing with the County and our containment steps have shown that there has not been a spread at school,” Osburn said.

Glencoe School District 35
Sources: Communications professional Kaitlin Eden and www.glencoeschools.org/district/remote-learning

Learning platform: Hybrid learning
District 35 has been operating in a hybrid learning model since the start of the school year on Aug. 31. 

Classroom sizes: No more than 50 percent
Classroom sizes vary depending on grade level but in hybrid learning, classrooms have no more than 50 percent of students at a time, Eden said.

COVID-19 cases: 1 all year, 0 contracted in school 
Eden said the one case was confirmed a “few weeks ago” and the district has not had additional cases since.

Protocols: All of the district’s general policies for students, guests and cleanliness can be found on its website here and here

Wilmette School District 39 
Source: Communications contractor Stacey Finkel and school website

Learning platform: In-person learning.
Approximately 80 percent of students and families selected the option, according to Finkel.

Class size: 12-18
Elementary classrooms are capped at 18 students who attend daily, while middle and junior high school classes have 24 students assigned to each classroom with only half attending at any given time. 

COVID-19 cases: 0 all year
Finkel said District 39 has not had any reported cases of COVID-19 since the start of its school year as of its latest report. Additional information on the district’s metrics can be found here

Protocols: District 39 did not provide The Record with specifics related to its general policies for general policies for students, guests and cleanliness but additional information can be found here

Winnetka School District 36
Source: Communications Coordinator Kate Hughes

Learning platform: Hybrid learning
Students are divided alphabetically and split into a.m. and p.m. groups, attending school in-person for half of the day and at home through remote learning the other half of the day, according to Hughes. Approximately 100 families have opted for exclusively remote learning for the district’s first trimester, which ends in late November. 

Classroom size 8-12
There are approximately 8-12 students in both morning and afternoon cohorts, Hughes said. 

COVID-19 cases: 4 (2 students, 2 staff members) all year, 0 contracted in district
“We closely follow protocol from the Cook County Department of Public Health to swiftly notify families and provide instructions if there is a COVID case in their child’s cohort,” Hughes said. “Close contacts are instructed to quarantine and the health department conducts contact tracing. Students who are in 14-day quarantine are provided access to remote learning. We also inform all staff and families if there is a case in the district.” 

Protocols: Follows guidelines from the Illinois State Board of Education and Illinois Department of Health; social distancing; masks while on district grounds; increased hand-washing stations; outdoor tented learning spaces; daily sanitation; additional cleaning staff; added high-efficiency particulate air filtration units for classrooms; daily temperature and activity reporting for students and staff.

Kenilworth School District 38
Sources: Communications Coordinator Deborah Keegan and www.kenilworth38.org/2020-2021-updates

Learning platform: In-person with remote options
District 38 welcomed all of its students back to school five days per week while meeting published health and safety guidelines, according to Keega. For the district’s in-person learning, grade-level “bubbles” have separate entrances, staggered start times, dedicated bathrooms, and dedicated ‘bubble’ volunteers, Keegan said.

Class size: 12-20
District 38 classrooms have up to 20 students in a classroom depending on the room’s square footage, Keegan said. 

COVID-19 cases: 1 all year, 0 contracted in district
Unconfirmed if student or staff member. “We worked very closely with the Cook County Department of Public Health to guide our response to illness,” Keegan said. 

Protocols: Socially distanced staggered start to the day; individual entrances; mask requirements; frequent hand hygiene; distanced desks; plexiglass shields around student and teacher desks; use of outside space when possible; frequent cleaning of high-touch surfaces, guest restrictions, said Keegan, who added that District 38 also has committed to following guiding principles with “a lens of equity and planning for (its) most vulnerable students and families.” Additional policies and procedures can be found in the district’s parent/student Phase 4 Handbook. 

Sunset Ridge School District 29 (Northfield and Northbrook)
Sources: Superintendent Edward Strange and district website

Learning platform: Hybrid learning
District 29 started its school year on Aug. 25 with an in-person program from 8:38 a.m.-12:30 p.m. followed by a remote program from 1:30-3:30 p.m., Stange told The Record. All-remote learning is provided as an option. The district has asked for a trimester-long commitment, through Nov. 20, to one of those two programs. 

Classroom size: 12-14 
District 29 generally has no more than 14 students attending in-person and another 4-6 per classroom that stream in remotely. 

COVID-19 cases: 0 all year
The district has not had a confirmed COVID-19 case in the school, according to Strange. He said the district has had many students sent home from school due to illness/symptoms but none have resulted in a confirmed case of COVID. We strictly adhere to the IDPH/CCDPH guidance in this respect,” he said. “Further, we have a specific contact at CCDPH with which we consult and seek guidance when illnesses arise.” 

Protocols: daily health self-certification for all students and staff; daily on-site temperature checks; students and staff organized into “pods” that do not “cross”; maximized social distancing (desk spacing, visual reminders in hallways and outdoors); mandatory face coverings; hygiene breaks built into schedule (e.g., after snack); regular outdoor mask breaks; student desk shields and teacher workstation shields; increased cleaning of high touch surfaces. 

Inside a science classroom this fall at North Shore Country Day School in Winnetka. | JAY YOUNG/NORTH SHORE COUNTRY DAY

North Shore Country Day School (Winnetka)
Sources: Head of School Tom Flemma and www.nscds.org

Learning Platform: Hybrid learning
In-person learning for half the day and remote learning the other half. The school currently has 530 students coming to campus with 30 students (6 percent of enrollment) opting for full-time remote learning, according to Flemma. 

Classroom size: 10-14
Flemma said that the lower school classrooms contain no more than 12 students, while middle and upper schools feature between 12 and 14 students. 

COVID-19 cases: 1 all year, 0 contracted at school
Flemma did not confirm whether the case was a student or staff member. The case was discovered “a month ago” and did not originate on campus, Flemma said, adding “The reaction was exemplary. Everybody followed all of our protocols. Everybody was incredibly diligent.”

Protocols: Mask required on campus unless eating or drinking or outdoors while maintaining six feet of distance; additional cleaning around lunchtime; adhering to guidelines from Cook County Public Health; daily temperature checks and health screenings; back-to-school plan was informed by medical advisory group consistent of current parents. 

“People are so grateful to be back in school. … It’s totally inspiring and why we’ve been successful so far. … Parents have been remarkably supportive of all our efforts. Particularly that is because we have been pretty transparent of our planning,” Tom Flemma, head of school

Regina Dominican High School (Wilmette)
Sources: Principal Kassie Porecca and RDHS Campus Reopening Plan

Learning Platform: In-person learning
An all-remote option was made available and chosen by about 10 students (4 percent; fluctuating number), according to Porecca.

Classroom size: 16 maximum
Proecca said standard classrooms can safely (appropriately distanced) hold 16 students. Larger classes — up to about 22 students— are conducted in alternative spaces: the library, a lecture hall, etc.

COVID-19 cases: 1 all year, 0 contracted at school
One student case of COVID-19 was reported Sunday, Sept. 27. A small group of students (no teachers) were quarantined. There has been no community spread at Regina, Porecca said. 

Protocols: Mask required on campus unless eating or drinking or outdoors while maintaining six feet of distance (mask breaks built into daily schedule); additional daytime cleaning crew to pair with standard evening cleaning; daily temperature checks and health screenings; limited fountain and bathroom accessibility; no before-school gathering in cafeteria or student entrance; boxed lunches provided

“Every single day, no lie, I get emails from parents and kids saying thank you so much for everything you are doing. We made a promise to be 100 percent transparent. We still have zero cases up until Sunday when we had to report one case. The only response I got back was ‘thank you’ for the transparency and working hard. This community is remarkable,” Kassie Proecca, principal 

The Record Roundup will be a consistent featurette at TheRecordNorthShore.org. Stay tuned for a Record Roundup of Halloween and Trick-or-Treating guidelines by town.

joe coughlin
Joe Coughlin

Joe Coughlin is a co-founder and the editor in chief of The Record. He leads investigative reporting and reports on anything else needed. Joe has been recognized for his investigative reporting and sports reporting, feature writing and photojournalism. Follow Joe on Twitter @joec2319

martin carlino
Martin Carlino

Martin Carlino is a co-founder and the senior editor who assigns and edits The Record stories, while also bylining articles every week. Martin is an experienced and award-winning education reporter who was the editor of The Northbrook Tower.

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