Back to school during COVID-19

As we approach the upcoming school year, we recognize that our ATT teachers, administrators, families and students are concerned about the continued uncertainty of what this school year will look like.

All of our schools are faced with the task of the usual back to school planning, combined with the daunting need to plan for safely educating our community’s children during a worldwide epidemic.

Over the summer, we have seen our schools meet this challenge with creativity, perseverance, resourcefulness and much hard work. 

As the State of Illinois currently remains in Phase 4, all ATT schools are scheduled to open on time and in person. Each school, depending on its size and population is working hard to determine how to reopen in the least restrictive, yet safest manner. Schools will be following the Illinois State Board of Education and state and local boards of health guidelines.

In addition, some schools have seated medical oversight and planning committees to assure that their school is not just fulfilling the governmental guidelines, but more importantly, they are applying them correctly and effectively. Schools also have access to the ATT medical advisory board comprised of infectious disease doctors, school nurses and a pediatrician.

It is our hope and Tefillah that the situation continues to improve throughout the coming school year. At the same time, we are reassured to see our schools all building on lessons learned last spring and planning for contingency scenarios if stricter social distancing and possibly a return to remote learning is required. All of our schools have the common goal to minimize the disruption that might arise. 

ATT has worked with the Jewish Federation and other funders who are eager to help financially stabilize the schools and help them meet their needs in continuing education. The ATT acknowledges the generosity of the JUF and the Walder Family Foundation for very substantial support and concern they continue to show for our schools.

Helping ATT schools access available funds

ATT has been assisting schools in accessing and maximizing public relief funding by identifying opportunities, helping schools navigate the process to access these funds and assuring that local school districts, who typically are the gatekeepers for Title funds and the ESSER (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund), are distributing these funds equitably and in accordance with Federal rules.

Below are some recent ATT activities in this area:

  • Consultation with Chicago Public Schools and four other public school districts to access the Federal CARES Act/Education Stabilization Fund and understanding appropriate uses of the funds. These consultations consist of the exchange of information and monitoring that our schools are getting their fair share.
  • Numerous collaborative discussions with other nonpublic school representatives of the Illinois Coalition of Nonpublic Schools regarding opening schools in the fall and accessing CARES Act funding.
  • Informing ATT schools of the processes they need to follow as details about the new funding unfold.
  • Forwarding communication from the Illinois State Board of Education that impacts our schools.
  • Assuring that remote learning requests are eligible for Title I funds.
  • Successful efforts with Chicago Public Schools to reinstate IDEA Proportionate Share special education services for eligible students so that services could resume remotely. These services include speech, LD learning specialists and other LD interventions.
  • Managing the required paperwork for Federal Title programs and tracking their progress for payment.

Our schools have also been able to access Federal Payroll Protection Loans (PPP) to assure that staff will continue to remain employed. ATT and JUF assisted schools in accessing this opportunity, and all of the schools benefited from this critical financial infusion.

To support our schools, the ATT is overseeing training to make this year as successful as possible.

ATT has been convening its Principals Council more frequently so that principals can hear each other’s ideas and concerns and network effectively. Schools can exchange information, successes and resources to help meet the increased needs of this time. This week’s meeting focused on reopening, planning and surveying schools’ reopening needs.

Individual schools and teachers have received support for technology in education, best practices and content.

ATT will be providing several professional development courses over the remainder of the summer break to help teachers gain confidence and insight into the new realities of our students’ learning needs.

ATT is proud of its partnership with its affiliated schools and its role in assuring that our schools continue to thrive and grow so that your child will experience the best education that we can provide.

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