Distinctive Schools Launches Community Care Plan

Distinctive Schools is proud to announce an innovative reopening plan for Fall 2020, the Distinctive Schools Community Care Plan. The Community Care Plan was designed in consideration of the diverse needs of Distinctive Schools’ families, students, and staff. All Distinctive Schools students will participate in remote learning, and families have the option to enroll in on-site community care, a safe space for students to learn during the school day. Distinctive Schools is closely monitoring local health data, and working to ensure safety for all on-site participants; local health data may require Distinctive schools to adjust offerings at any point. On-site community care will be available based on district, authorizer, and state allowances, in conjunction with available talent, resources and space. 

Distinctive Schools, a network of nine charter schools in Chicago and Detroit, has been recognized as an early adopter and leader in student-centered learning. When school buildings abruptly closed in mid-March, Distinctive Schools teachers and staff converted their classrooms overnight. Distinctive Schools teachers and students were uniquely prepared for remote learning, equipped with technology, personalized learning plans, and adaptive programming to continue robust learning programs while working and learning from home.  

Scott Frauenheim, Chief Executive Officer for Distinctive Schools shared, “The heart of our work at Distinctive Schools is being true to our values: culture, equity, innovation, wellness, and exemplary student performance. This is our tenth year as an organization, and as we start this year in a way that we have never done before, the work we’ve engaged in over the last decade has prepared us for this opportunity. We put students in the driver’s seat of their learning, and with these guiding principles, we are committed to fostering a community of care while maintaining high-quality teaching and learning during the global pandemic. ” 

The Community Care Plan aims to address the needs of both staff and families, offering choice and options for families, while prioritizing the safety and health of students and staff. All Distinctive Schools students will learn remotely. For families who need child care options that a typical school day would provide, schools will open with a limited capacity and serve on-site Community Care. Community Care Leads, roles held by Distinctive teachers or staff, will create a joyful, safe space for remote learning during the day.  

“We gathered feedback from as many stakeholders as possible, and carefully reviewed over 1,000 family survey responses, gaining insight into the staff experience of the school-building closure using the Upbeat survey, attained a deeper understanding of student perspective of their experience of the pandemic using the YouthTruth survey, created an internal task force, and brought together an advisory panel to gain perspective and build this plan together,” Mike McCarthy, Executive Director of Student Services shared, “We always strive to elevate the voice of our students, teachers and staff. The collaboration in the development of the Community Care Plan, and the positive response is a testament to the entire team.” 

Educator Bethany Houlehan was appreciative of the options provided, “Distinctive Schools did an amazing job of listening to both the families and staff! They took the necessary time to look carefully at all perspectives and balance those with the science to devise a comprehensive plan for this school year.  The Community Care Plan ensures that our students and staff will be safe and learning this fall.” 

In the spring, Distinctive Schools sent home 2,480 devices, and saw strong engagement in remote learning. Planned improvements for the fall include the addition of a comprehensive social-emotional learning curriculum, and accelerated teacher training for remote learning. Learn more about the Distinctive Schools Community Care Plan here.