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April 19, 2020

Dear AERO Parent/Guardian,

The health, safety, and well-being of our AERO students and staff is the highest priority for the AERO Administration.  Due to the ongoing concern regarding the Coronavirus/COVID-19 and the commitment to the health and welfare of all students and staff throughout the State of Illinois, Governor Pritzker has decided to close all Illinois schools for the remainder of the 2019-2020 School Year.

We recognize the impact of the current reality and hardships on everyone: more people are losing jobs; some are limited in their ability to connect with healthy and sick family members; many are trying to juggle their work-from-home job while assisting their children with remote learning.  There are huge changes in our day-to-day routines. Please know that we are listening and working to continue student learning as best as we can. All AERO teachers and related service staff have come together to do whatever it takes to provide engaging and fun educational opportunities for AERO students during these Remote Learning Days.  Recognizing that remote learning could never replace in-person instruction, I am fully aware of how challenging this is for everyone, especially parents.  I thank those of you who have reached out to the AERO educators to provide encouragement and support for them during this time.  AERO teachers are the point people for the Remote Learning Plan, have been calling their students’ families, hearing about the trials and tribulations along with joys and positive things that are occurring in your households.  The AERO educators are truly working night and day to try to provide the best caring and learning environment they can for your children. The AERO staff are heartbroken that they can’t be there to directly help your children in the same way they could if your child was in the classroom.

We have and will continue to make adjustments to instructional delivery as we work to be the best we can be during this time.  If you are having particular challenges or needs we may be able to help with, please reach out to your child’s teacher and/or your child’s Program Supervisor or AERO Principal.  We will continue to do our best.

The closing of AERO for the reminder of the school year has many parents wondering what will happen next?  What happens to the annual events that are associated with the end of our school year? The end of this school year may look different, but we will strive to recognize and celebrate the accomplishments of our students.

The health and wellbeing of AERO students and their families cannot be overstated.  It has now been a number of weeks that our students have been learning from home.  We know the COVID-19 Pandemic can wear on every resource, from food and shelter to our emotional and mental health.  Fortunately, the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) has launched a support line called Call4Calm that is reachable via text.  Individuals who want to speak with a mental health professional can text the word “Talk” or “Hablar” (Spanish) to 552-020.  Within 24 hours, that individual will receive a call from a mental health professional employed by a local community health center.  Call4Calm is free, and individuals who use it can remain anonymous.

During this time, more than ever, it is important we continue to work together and support our students.  Stay healthy and safe.

Sincerely,
Dr. James W. Gunnell Signature
James W. Gunnell, Ed.D
Executive Director of Special Education

JWG

cc: A.E.R.O. Member Districts

Last Revised: April 19, 2020 at 11:43PM

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