Summer Update from Dr. Kari Cremascoli – July 28

Summer Update from Dr. Kari Cremascoli – July 28
Posted on 07/28/2021

Dear District 39 Families,

The end of July is quickly approaching and we are excited to welcome our students and staff back to school soon! We hope you are able to plan for some fun as summer wraps up and we all begin to prepare for a fantastic school year ahead. Below are some updates as we prepare to welcome students back to classrooms next month. As a reminder, the first day of school in District 39 is Wednesday, August 25.  

School Offices Open August 2
School offices officially reopen on Monday, August 2. Building administrators and secretaries will be onsite to assist you. Families are encouraged to contact the school office with any questions or needs related to enrollment for the upcoming school year. Please look for additional communication regarding the start of the school year at your child’s school from your school principal in the coming weeks.   

Mitigation Planning Updates 
District 39 has been diligently planning for the fall and are excited to be able to welcome students back into our buildings for the start of the academic year with layered mitigation strategies to support the health and safety of our students and staff. Earlier this week, the IDPH released updated FAQs to help guide school district’s in this important planning. On Tuesday, the CDC released revised recommendations for vaccinated individuals. We will be reviewing this new information and are still planning for a complete review of our mitigation plans with the Board at the upcoming Committee of the Whole meeting next month. We will continue to collaborate with the Cook County Department of Public Health (CCDPH) to develop protocols which will allow us to educate our students safely and maintain in-person instruction for our students. 

We understand that everyone is eager to learn what the beginning of the school year will look like for their child/children, particularly in regards to masking expectations. However, in consideration of the evolving landscape, making this important decision with an in-depth understanding of the new guidance released earlier this week as well as the most timely, relevant information and local data closer to the start of the school year is prudent and will help us protect the health and safety of our students and staff. Following the guidance of medical and public health experts at CCPDH and IDPH served us well during the 2020-21 school year and continuing to do so will certainly benefit us as we reopen schools this fall. 

A detailed review of our layered mitigation strategies is being planned for the Board’s Committee of the Whole Meeting on August 18. However, at this time we are planning for District 39 mitigation layers to include the following.

  • Masking 
    • Guidance indicated that fully vaccinated individuals may have the option not to wear a mask indoors. The updatedguidance from the CDC offers additional information regarding these options and we are seeking additional clarification from the CCDPH to help guide our planning for the school year.  
    • We are seeking clarification regarding masking guidelines and protocol for unvaccinated individuals while at school. 
    • In accordance with other CDC guidelines, masks will be required for all passengers on school buses. 
  • Social Distancing  
    • Classrooms will be configured to accommodate  at least 3 feet of distancing between students in all classroom settings.
    • Lunch protocols for indoor dining will provide structure and additional distancing between students. In accordance with guidelines, at least 3 feet of distancing will be provided within classrooms. Increased distancing may be provided during lunch and within common areas. We continue to explore options for flexibility during lunch, especially for our older students. 
  • Layered Mitigation Strategies  
    • Student cohorting, as much as possible, is being planned across academic settings within our elementary schools. Middle and junior high school students are organized by houses and teams, respectively, and students will move between classes.  
    • Frequent handwashing and hand sanitizer availability
    • Regular cleaning and enhanced disinfecting of classroom spaces and common areas within the school
    • Continuation of enhanced air ventilation district-wide
    • Support and reminders for students and staff to stay home when sick with symptoms of infectious illness including COVID-19
    • Contract tracing, quarantining and communication when COVID-19 exposure occurs at school
    • Monitoring of local COVID-19 community infection rate metrics as well as cases/potential exposures reported by D39 students and staff
    • Access to COVID-19 testing through community partnerships

Vaccination Information
District 39 is requesting vaccination status information from students, staff and visitors. Having this information in advance will allow the District to more efficiently implement public health guidance for the 2021-22 school year. Individuals are not required to provide the District with documentation of COVID-19 vaccination; however, those without a record of vaccination on file will be required to follow the health protocols for unvaccinated individuals. Highcrest and Wilmette Junior High families, please review the email titled “Student COVID Vaccine Information” sent yesterday for more information and directions for submitting information.  

August School Board Meetings
At the School Board’s Committee of the Whole Meeting on Wednesday, August 18, the District will review its COVID-19 mitigation plan for our schools this fall, including masking requirements. We understand that everyone is eager for a decision to be made soon, as are we. In addition to masking,  Cook County quarantine and contract tracing protocols, community vaccination rate, community infection rate metrics, COVID-19 testing availability will be reviewed and discussed. As noted above, following the guidance offered to us by CCDPH and IDPH served us well throughout last year, and continuing to do so will be invaluable as we open schools in the fall. The School Board will make a decision based on the latest information and data during this meeting and the Board is scheduled to hold its next Regular Business Meeting on Monday, August 25.

Extended Day Programming Options
We are excited to share information regarding after-school programming and clubs for the 2021-22 school year that will be available to our Wilmette D39 families. Through an expanded partnership between District 39 and our very own Wilmette Park District, the Park District will be coordinating both before- and after-school programs for D39 students, including the early bird programming. Click here to see the different programmatic offerings and check out WPD’s Beyond the Bell website for more information.

For specific information on Campus Clubs located next year at Central, Harper and Highcrest or any other After School Clubs for the upcoming school year, please contact Kimberly Barton at For details on Morning CARE or CARE please contact Ann Toma at  

Strategic Planning
District 39 is excited to finalize its Strategic Plan this fall prior to presenting it to the Board of Education for approval at its Regular Meeting in September. In the early months of 2021, District 39 launched a strategic planning effort focused on community engagement and aspirational visioning.  Following an intensive effort last spring, a team of stakeholder representatives drafted a Strategic Plan to represent the vision and needs of the community.  This fall, the Core Strategic Planning Team will again seek community input on its final product. Please look for a final survey and opportunity for feedback in the fall as the school year kicks off.  For more information on Strategic Planning, visit our D39 Strategic Planning site.   

Holly Harper-Kelly Named Assistant Principal at Central School
Please join me in welcoming Holly Harper-Kelly, our new Assistant Principal at Central School. Ms. Harper-Kelly brings to our district 20 years of experience as an educator, including as an elementary teacher, a coordinator and, most recently, as Principal of the Nathaniel Hawthorne Early Learning Center in Wheeling. 

Important Dates for the Start of the 2021-22 School Year
District 39 is planning for full in-person instruction and typical school hours to start the new school year.  The District 39 2021-22 school year calendar is available online. Below are some important dates to note for the start of the new school year:

  • Wednesday, August 18 - Class Assignments Emailed to Parents
  • Thursday, August 19 - 5th Grade Orientation at HMS
  • Friday, August 20 - 7th Grade Orientation at WJHS
  • Monday, August 23 and Tuesday, August 24 - Teacher Institute Days
  • Wednesday, August 25 - First Half-Day of Student Attendance (AM) 
  • Thursday, August 26 - First Full Day of Student Attendance
  • Monday, September 6 - Labor Day - No School
  • Tuesday, September 7 - Rosh Hashanah - No School

We hope you continue to enjoy your summer!  Please look for our next D39 update on August 14 as well as for additional updates fromyour child’s school principal as we prepare together for a great start to the new school year.

Your partner in education,

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