4/16/20 COVID-19 Update: School District Operations Center established, May events under review

Shane Landon Olson, Editor-in-Chief

Editor’s Note: Information in this article is rapidly changing. This is up to date as of April 16, 2020.

As the number of COVID-19 infections grew in Illinois, so did the Glenbrook North District #225 administration’s concern for the large number of people that congregate together.

“We knew that we needed to take action,” superintendent Charles Johns said in a video interview.

Per the district’s crisis plan, the administration established the School District Operations Center, also known as the SDOC, said Johns. The SDOC is made up of a group of 10 district employees who pool together information from the CDC, news and state authorities, and collaborate with nearby school districts. The SDOC uses this information to coordinate action.

The SDOC is trying to obtain more information before they make any decision regarding the timing or cancelation of events scheduled throughout May, said Johns. These events include Springfest, Prom, Senior Awards Ceremony and Graduation.

“As we learn more from the governor, the SDOC will review: ‘What’s our timeline? What are our options?’” said Johns. “If it’s a go and we can proceed ahead, then we’ll go back to our normal development process. If we need to come up with alternatives, we’ll figure out [a new process] when we get to that point.

“We’ve got a lot of talking, a lot of thinking to do.”

Michael Tarjan, assistant principal of student activities, is also evaluating different options and collecting information about what other schools are doing for these events, Johns said.

The SDOC does not have an opinion on when schools will open, Johns said.

“The hard part is … we can’t get the information when we want it,” said Johns. “But we certainly understand that [the governor] is dealing with a lot bigger things than just us.

“We’re hoping [school opens], but there’s certainly not enough information to prognosticate. And we don’t have near the level of experts working with us that the governor has at his disposal.”

The SDOC has not made any decision to cancel second semester finals, but are assessing the pros and cons, Johns said.

Although teachers cannot require students to be available at designated times synchronously as a class, Johns said the technology department is supporting Google Hangouts for E-Learning purposes. The technology department’s Help Desk is available by calling (847) 486-4555, ext. 3 or via email at helpdesk@glenbrook225.org.

“We’ll have people on duty Mondays and Wednesdays from [7 a.m.] until noon, and then we can do appointments as well.

“They have one person there who can help with technology and we have backup devices, backup chargers, the whole thing,” Johns said.

According to Johns, he believes GBN is one of the safest places to be right now.

“There’s been extensive cleaning that has taken place already, and we’re actually working with vendors now to look at even another level of cleaning since then,” said Johns. “But quite frankly, the building’s been so empty for so long that the virus would have died by now.”

According to Johns, he would never make a decision contrary to students’ safety and wellbeing.

“This is temporary,” said Johns. “We will get through this, and we want to make sure we’re ready for what comes next.”