Dr. Michele Wilkins with kids

We look forward to being back in school with our kiddos!

Late afternoon on Friday, March 13, Governor Pritzker ordered all public and non-public schools to close from Tuesday, March 17 through Monday, March 30 in the wake of the COVID-19 virus. Then the closures were extended through April 7. Child’s Voice is a non-public special education program.

On Monday, March 16, I called a staff institute having only staff report to work. On March 23, staff convened via video conference to assess how we would continue through April 7, and if necessary, beyond.

Child’s Voice has been very active setting up learning activities for all of our students. A new website page was created that contains all our learning activities on it. Included on the page are activities from our Early Intervention staff, our PI staff, and our PII staff. Please go to our website and check it out. Share it with others who may need some ideas.

Child’s Voice staff has been AMAZING. The staff has been coming together and working by department to ready our students for online learning. Plans were outlined and detailed. Materials were created, copied, and mailed to all school families. The school staff is keeping in contact with each family through their class Dojo. The EI staff are making personal phone calls to each EI family. All supporting school districts were informed of Child’s Voice E-Learning plan and directed to our website. Board members were informed. We have been busy.

The unity, collaboration, determination, and collegiality by the staff is profound. An unmistakable and clear demonstration of a strong culture of care was evident.

I am sending updates from the IL State Board of Education to all staff and parents as I receive them. ISBE is communicating often. Rollen Cooper, our EI Director, is keeping his EI staff well informed as to directions offered by the IL Department of Human Services.

Now I listen to the news non-stop. The term I really dislike is NEW NORMAL. I sure do not want what is happening to be the’ new normal’. According to the Urban Dictionary:

New normal:  The current state of being after some dramatic change has transpired. What replaces the expected, usual, typical state after an event occurs. The new normal encourages one to deal with current situations rather than lamenting what could have been.

We are working with Mr. David Schreier as a consultant for our Defining our Voices project. He sent this out today. I really like it. I know you will too.

“Dear Friends –

Right now may feel like the very ground beneath our feet is disappearing.

We don’t know how long the changes we’re now required to make will last or what the long-term impact will be on our lives and livelihoods.

But if we need to hold onto something to steady ourselves and others, there are three reliable foundations:

Kindness – Be kind to yourself for any anxiety and fear you may be feeling.  And remember that others are feeling this way, too, and a little gesture of kindness to them will go a long way.  Offer support and encouragement, and recognize that you may need these things yourself.

Patience – Be patient with yourself for not having all the answers, for needing to figure out how to keep your kids busy and how to set up a home office.  Be patient with others, who are grappling with the same issues, pressures and stresses.

Gratitude – Find things in your day to be grateful for, small or large.  It could be the first cup of coffee, story time with your kids, or the generous spirit of our medical professionals.  We should use this time to also appreciate things we may have taken for granted, like spending time with others.”

Please stay well,

Fondly,

Dr. Michele