Citing a growing strain on its internal operations, Avoca School District 37 will move to all-remote learning starting Nov. 30 until Jan. 19, according to Superintendent Kaine Osburn.
Osburn referred to the shift as “proactive and preventative” as COVID-19 cases and metrics continue to surge in New Trier Township.
“The biggest challenge has been as more students and staff members report being exposed to a positive or probable case,” he said. “And we anticipate with a lot of confidence that after Thanksgiving and winter break that pressure would increase even more.”
The district will retain its current hybrid learning model through Friday, Nov. 20. Remote learning will take over for all students and staff when school resumes at Marie Murphy Junior High and Avoca West after Thanksgiving break on Nov. 30.
Winter break is scheduled from Dec. 18 to Jan. 4, after which the district will resume remote learning until Jan. 19.
Osburn said the district has two scheduled collaborative staff meetings during Thanksgiving break. The priority for those days, he said, will shift to the execution of remote learning.
Osburn explained the move and more to parents in an emailed letter Friday, Nov. 13.
Avoca D37 — which serves portions of Wilmette, Winnetka and Glenview — decided to make the change a day after four elementary-school districts in Northfield Township announced a similar move.
Districts 27, 28, 30 and 34, which collectively serve Northbrook and Glenview, released a joint statement announcing a full-remote-learning platform for the same time period: after Nov. 20 until Jan. 20.
Outside of Avoca 37, no New Trier feeder districts have announced a change to their learning platforms. Officials from Glencoe D35, Sunset Ridge D29, Wilmette D39 and Winnetka D36 told The Record there will be no change at this time, while Kenilworth D38 did not immediately return a message from The Record.
“We haven’t made any changes to the current hybrid learning,” said Kaitlin Eden, a communications professional with Glencoe 35. “We are aware neighboring districts are switching to remote, but we have nothing to announce. That could change at any time.”
Thanks to the development of high-participation, weekly COVID-19 screenings, New Trier High School brought students back to the classroom Tuesday, Nov. 10, after a four-week hiatus from its 25-percent hybrid model.
Loyola Academy and North Shore Country Day School are operating under hybrid models, while Regina Dominican High School, with its smaller enrollment, is at 100 percent in-person instruction.
Osburn said that Avoca officials are proud of the effectiveness of the district’s safety measures but moving to remote through the holidays is the right decision for Avoca District 37.
“When we looked at internal metrics and staff and student attendance, and thought about post-Thanksgiving, we thought it would is better to be proactive and go to remote learning because due to the metrics it will be hard to operate school on site successfully,” he said.