End of Year Update
March 12, 2021
Update from Superintendent Dr. Nick Polyak
This Saturday will mark exactly one year since we were forced to close our schools to in-person learning due to the pandemic. This message provides our Leyden community with some important updates on where we are now and what we see happening as we move forward.
Over the past month, approximately 800 students returned to in-person learning at East Leyden and approximately 600 students returned to in-person learning at West Leyden. Our teachers and support staff have been doing an amazing job, conducting classes in-person and online simultaneously, accommodating the needs of all of our Leyden families.
We recently conducted a survey to determine the feasibility of increasing our in-person learning option from two days per week, to a total of four days per week. After reviewing that data, we are excited to announce that we can make that transition next week, starting on Tuesday, March 16. Students’ families had the opportunity to select to remain fully remote, to attend their assigned two days per week, or to attend four days per week. Even with these changes, we are able to maintain proper social distancing in all of our courses and classrooms.
We remain encouraged by our expanding abilities to create even more impactful experiences for our students. With that in mind, we turn our efforts towards the future and our end-of-year festivities:
Working within the guidelines established by our local health officials, we are planning to hold our graduation ceremonies, as scheduled on May 18 (West Leyden) and May 19 (East Leyden). Hopefully, those guidelines will allow us to have our graduations at the Rosemont Theater, even if we need to limit attendance. If indoor ceremonies are not possible, we are creating a backup plan for graduations to occur on the stadium field at West Leyden with rain dates in case the weather does not cooperate. More details will follow as we get closer to the end of the year.
Instead of a traditional prom, student representatives are working closely with class sponsors and administrators to plan for alternate, allowable events that may include fun events and other activities that make use of the outdoors and limit group sizes.
The Illinois High School Association has put forth seasons and regulations for all sports to occur this year. The seasons are shortened and many coaches and athletes are managing overlapping sports. We appreciate everyone’s flexibility and we are just happy to see our student athletes working hard, laughing, smiling, and competing. More information about regulations for fans and postseason competitions continue to evolve as time goes by.
As we look to close out this school year, we know that we will need to approach summer school with many of the same restrictions in place. We will continue to offer Extended Learning Opportunities (ELOs) for students who need some additional work for successful completion of courses from this year. The summer school courses will be offered with a combination of in-seat and blended learning options.
The question I hear most often these days is, “What will next year look like?” This is hard to know for sure because we do not know what guidelines and restrictions will be in place by August. At this time, we are planning to return to full-day instruction with the implementation of our new daily schedule. We plan to provide additional information on the new schedule, which includes Eagle Time, in our next publication and throughout the spring. If remote learning remains necessary, we will be considering alternative models for instruction.
Just this week, the Illinois State Board of Education released new guidance allowing schools to utilize three feet of social distancing. That’s good news for looking to return to some version of normalcy. I’m sure there will be more challenges and more guidance coming. We will continue to work through all of that as we move ahead and will continue communicating as we have more information in the weeks and months ahead.
Thank you again for your patience, your partnership, and your trust as we continue to navigate this truly unique year. Have a great day!