Dear Students and Parents,

With Thanksgiving week upon us, it is an opportune time to pause and reflect, to appreciate God’s generosity, and to be grateful for all of the gifts He has bestowed upon us, despite the travails of 2020.

We are thankful for the resilience, patience and understanding of our parents and students as they navigate the difficulties of an unsettling and, at times, heartbreaking school year.  We are grateful for the flexibility, creativity and sheer tenacity of our faculty and staff as they teach and maintain all of the operations of Fenwick in unfamiliar and severely challenging ways.

We are also grateful that all of the hard work so many have put into keeping our school environment safe in the midst of a killer pandemic has not yet resulted in any life-threatening cases of Covid-19 to be transmitted at Fenwick.  However, we must also acknowledge that the risk of life-threatening exposure at Fenwick is increasing while community spread of this contagion continues unimpeded.

It is within this context that we have made the very difficult decision to revert to e-learning from Friday, November 20, through Monday, January 18.  Hybrid learning will resume the Tuesday after Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, January 19.

The school building will not be closed.  Within restrictions, some activities may take place and faculty/staff may work in the building, but there will be no in-person instruction until January 19.  Please see more detail below.

This decision was based on a number of factors:
● real concern among administration about the health of faculty/staff, students and their families.  This is especially true for the 20% of our faculty who may be particularly vulnerable to this virus
● with faculty and staff quarantining and/or taking leave under the FFCRA, Fenwick is approaching a point of not being able to provide adequate supervision to students
● DuPage, Cook County and Oak Park have been consistently above the 8% positivity rate that puts us into the Orange at-risk category, and the respective health departments strongly recommend a minimum 2-week switch to remote learning, or until positivity rates begin to consistently decline
● The Cook County and Oak Park Public Health Departments have advised Fenwick that if we had not taken the “adaptive pause” following the Halloween weekend, we almost certainly would have had up to 35 undiagnosed, non-symptomatic, but contagious cases of Covid-19 in the building.  We are very concerned about such a scenario in the wake of the Thanksgiving and New Year’s weekends, which is why we are remote learning for two weeks after Thanksgiving and two weeks after New Year’s
● Faculty/staff and our families have children/siblings coming home from out of state colleges, and/or may be traveling out of state, which may require more faculty/staff and students to quarantine
● Not all students who are out on quarantine or who are awaiting testing are following the guidelines of quarantine and are visiting with other students outside of school
● There was an increasing number of students this week and last who came to school not feeling well and were sent home.  This was not the case earlier in the year
● There are multiple points of exposures between student groups, making contact tracing increasingly difficult
● On any given school day, about 30% of the student body is "permanently" remote learning (i.e., those who are out sick, those who are quarantined, and those who have elected full-time remote learning).  
● With more students opting for full-time remote learning and more students quarantining, this percentage is likely to continue to rise causing greater inconsistency in instruction/learning.
● A break provides the facilities department the necessary time to continue working on, studying and testing a permanent ventilation and warming solution for the building when temperatures really plunge  
● The time allows facilities to complete an in-depth building cleaning
● A break from in-school learning will provide all faculty and staff, and our families/students, an opportunity to lessen the stress level of potential exposure to/from Fenwick over the holidays, giving all of us a little more family relaxation time during an incredibly stressful period
This will only work - i.e., we will only be able to safely return to hybrid learning for the second semester - if students, faculty and staff actually quarantine for the two weeks leading up to MLK weekend.  That means…
● No gatherings outside of your immediate family.
● No club sports or activities 
● Stay within your families quarantine area; i.e., your home and immediate outside spaces
● Practice all social distancing guidelines, including wearing masks, washing hands and staying 6 feet away from others.
Our hope is to come back to school with a student body who has quarantined for 14 days and is healthy and ready to learn.

Parent/Teacher conferences will continue as planned next week.  Please keep your scheduled appointments.
Fenwick eLearning Schedule
Below is a daily schedule for a return to full eLearning. We will use this schedule beginning Monday, November 30th through Friday, December 18, and again from Monday, January 4 through Friday, January 15th.

If a class period is not scheduled to meet live, students will have an assignment on those days. For example periods 1-4/5/6 may meet on Mondays, and students will receive an assignment for their period 6/7/8-11th period classes.
Period 1: 9:00 - 9:55
Period 2: 10:05 - 11:00
Period 3: 11:10 - 12:05
Lunch: 12:05 - 1:00
Period 4/5 or 5/6: 1:00 - 1:55

Period 6/7 or 7/8: 9:00 - 9:55
Period 9: 10:05 - 11:00
Period 10: 11:10 - 12:05
Lunch: 12:05 - 1:00
Period 11: 1:00 - 1:55

Period 1: 9:00 - 9:55
Period 2: 10:05 - 11:00
Period 3: 11:10 - 12:05
Lunch: 12:05 - 1:00
Period 4/5 or 5/6: 1:00 - 1:55

Period 6/7 or 7/8: 9:00 - 9:55
Period 9: 10:05 - 11:00
Period 10: 11:10 - 12:05
Lunch: 12:05 - 1:00
Period 11: 1:00 - 1:55

Period 1: 9:00 - 9:30
Period 2: 9:40 - 10:10
Period 3: 10:20 - 10:50
Period 4/5 or 5/6: 11:00 - 11:30
Lunch: 11:30 - 12:00
Period 6/7 or 7/8: 12:00 - 12:30
Period 9: 12:40 - 1:10
Period 10: 1:20 - 1:50
Period 11: 2:00 - 2:30
First Semester Final Exams
Fenwick High School will not have a week dedicated to final exams for the first semester.  During the first two weeks of January, teachers will be allowed to assess the students during their allotted class time but there will be no dates dedicated exclusively to final exams.  More information is to come.

Admissions Testing
The Admissions Office will host the 8th Grade Entrance Exam on Sat., Dec. 5, at 8:00 a.m.
Applicants will have two options for the exam this year:
1.       In person exam at Fenwick High School.
2.       Remote online exam at home.
The Admissions Office is prepared to move the entire testing pool to the remote online option should it be advisable.  As of Thursday, November 19, the Admissions Office is planning to offer both testing options to the 8th-grade applicants.

From the IHSA (on 11/19)

All IHSA sports and activities were temporarily paused today based on the newest state mitigations. A full recap of the Board meeting is below, which includes answers to many of the questions we anticipate you will have as a result. Please reach out to our office with any questions or situations that may not be directly addressed for further clarification. I would encourage you to read all the way through to the end of the release and the discussion items, as they highlight some of the topics the Board is already discussing and could act upon in the future when we are able to return to participation.

To maintain compliance with the most recent mitigations issued by Governor Pritzker that take effect on November 20, the IHSA Board issued guidance to pause all IHSA winter sports and activities by November 20.

“All IHSA sports and activities will cease by November 20 for what we hope is a short-term pause,” said IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson. “Given the rising COVID-19 cases in our state and region, we support the Governor’s mitigations and believe it is imperative for everyone in the state to do their part in following them so that we can return to high school sports participation as soon as possible.”

The Board will revisit the status of winter sports at their update discussion on December 2, and again at their regularly scheduled meeting on December 14 if necessary.

“Taking into account the current state mitigations, the Board believes that early to mid-December will be the most reasonable target to review the status of winter IHSA sports and activities,” said Anderson. “The Board is sensitive to the scheduling difficulties these delays create for athletic directors and coaches. However, our experiences this summer and fall lead us to believe that setting arbitrary start dates hinders the process even more. We realize it may seem redundant, but we have to preach patience as we await more data and direction from the state. Despite the obstacles this unprecedented school year has presented, the Board’s vision to provide participation opportunities in all IHSA sports has not wavered.”

The Board was steadfast in their desire to remind all athletes and athletic programs that adhering to the mitigations is vital to the hopes of safely playing high school sports in Illinois as soon as possible.

“I believe there is a misconception that IHSA and non-school athletic programs have an adversarial relationship,” said Anderson. “In my time at the IHSA, I have not found that to be the case at all. More so, I think there is a mutual respect for the opportunities that each provide for athletes. IHSA schools have been exemplary in adhering to state regulations throughout this pandemic and we are calling upon non-school programs to hold themselves to that same standard. As school and non-school sports temporarily cease in Illinois, and throughout the Midwest, it is a great reminder that putting the health and safety of our fellow citizens at the forefront in the short-term will allow all levels of athletics to thrive in the long-term.”

The Board provided the following participation clarifications to member schools:

Winter Season Start Date: Given the timing of the Governor’s new mitigations, November 16 will not be recognized as the start date of the winter season, regardless of whether winter sport teams conducted any official tryouts or practices. A new start date will be established for each sport once winter sports can be conducted again.

Conditioning & Weight Training: Conditioning and weight training before and after school are paused. Local schools will decide if conditioning and weight training programs that are a part of their academic curriculums continue or are ceased.

Open Gyms: Are paused and cannot be conducted at this time.

Outdoor Workouts: Outdoor workouts may be conducted in any sport in groups of 10 or less with masks and social distancing. Coaches are counted toward the 10. Use of sport-specific equipment is allowable with proper sanitizing practices.

One-on-One Skill Work: Per Tier 3 Resurgence Mitigations and with school approval, one-on-one skill work between a coach and student-athlete is permitted for winter sports only, but is limited to one coach and one student-athlete per facility.

Activities: Practices and competitions may only be conducted virtually. 

Non-School Participation: All sports organizations in the state, school or non-school, have been directed to abide by the Governor’s mitigations. IHSA coaches cannot organize non-school participation in any fashion. IHSA by-law 3.100 will be in effect once winter sport seasons begin following this pause.

Follow the latest regional metrics at:

Some activities may continue during this time period.  Students should reach out to their moderators for more information.

Health and Safety
Please continue to keep the nurses informed of any confirmed or suspected Covid-19 cases, exposures and testing or test results.  This is critical to continue contact tracing and to ensure that Fenwick will be able to safely return on Tuesday, January 19.

Student Services
Student Services will fully function over the course of the e-learning from Friday, November 20, through Monday, January 18  addressing the needs of our students. College counselors, the social workers, learning resource specialists and class counselors will continue to meet with and advise students over Zoom according to prescheduled arrangements.  If your student will not partake in e-Learning due to illness or other reasons, please be sure to call your student into the attendance office.

Senior Photos
Per previous communications, if you have already scheduled a senior photo session, those sessions will continue as scheduled on Friday, Monday and Tuesday, November 20, 23 and 24.

In light of the fact that students will not be in school during December and much of January, we will be suspending transportation/bus fees for those 2 months.  We will also be suspending onsite parking fees for December and January.  Fees will resume when in-person classes resume.

Thank you very much for your continued support and understanding as Fenwick grapples with how best to meet the varied needs of our community while keeping everyone’s health and safety our first priority.  Please look for more information over the coming weeks.

I ask all of us to keep in mind the deepest meanings of the holiday season and our Christian faith as we struggle with our collective response to this pandemic:  love of God and neighbor, empathy, forgiveness and sacrifice.   

May God bless you and your families.  Stay safe.  Have a blessed, grace-filled Thanksgiving.

Yours in Christ,

Fr. Richard Peddicord, O.P.

Fenwick High School is owned and sponsored by the Dominican Friars of the Province of St. Albert the Great headquartered in Chicago, Illinois.
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