Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Virtual Town Halls

Our goal as a school is to be clear, transparent, and consistent in our communication with families.  We know there is a lot of misinformation when it comes to reopening schools, and we want to ensure clarity, understanding, and a genuine two-way dialogue for our families.  Accordingly we hosted two virtual town hall meetings this week to further discuss our reopening plans and address the questions and concerns of our families. 
We are keenly aware of the difficult decisions facing each and every member of our community right now and strive to be accessible, engaged, and reflective, as well as, to share thoughtful resources to help support.  Decisions at East Prairie will continue to be directed by guidance from the medical community, scientific facts, and a hyperfocus on the unique needs of our students, teachers, families, and community. 
Accordingly, we wanted to share the online resource explaincovid.org.  This site was created by a team of researchers and students from Brown, MIT, Harvard, Mass General, and more with the aim of providing facts and accurate, unbiased information regarding COVID-19 to help inform personal decision-making.

Friday, July 24, 2020

Fall 2020 Reopening Plans

Thank you to the many families that were virtually able to attend our reopening presentation last night.  A recording is up on our website for anyone who missed it or would like to further review.  As Skokie, region 10, is currently in phase 4: revitalization of the Restore Illinois plan the guidance is for schools to resume in-person instruction with enhanced safety measures.  To help us navigate the planning process of safely returning to school this fall, we formed six reopening subcommittees - health & wellness, social-emotional learning, instruction, operations & facilities, personnel, and parent/board - made up of teachers, staff, board of education members, families, and community stakeholders.  Over thirty individuals came together to support this work.  These subcommittees reviewed and grounded their work in the guidelines from the Illinois State Board of Education, Illinois Department of Public Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Here is a detailed overview of the East Prairie School District 73 Fall 2020 Reopening Plan collaboratively put together by our team.
Here is a link to our Fall 2020 Family Survey.

Our goal remains to provide our students, staff, and families with a return to in-person instruction that prioritizes the health and safety of our community while maintaining a dynamic learning environment for all students.   We want to emphasize that–depending on the circumstances with the pandemic, either locally, regionally, or across the state–East Prairie may revert to a full remote learning platform for all students, or a return to a full day in-person schedule.  Our success as a district will hinge on our ability to ensure our plans reflect best-practices and are grounded in science, reason, and evidence.  Ongoing flexibility, responsiveness, and grace are essential from all of us to ensure our very best thinking continues to meet the needs of our community and this moment.  Thank you for your ongoing care and support!

Monday, July 20, 2020

Summer message to students

Wanting to make sure we communicate as effectively with our students as all of our other stakeholders, here is a letter just for them.

Friday, July 10, 2020

Family survey, reopening principles & timeline

Dear East Prairie families,

As we approach the middle of July we wanted to reach out to gather your feedback on planning for this coming year, as well as, to gain more insight into the impact the pandemic has had on your family.  Our aim is ensure we fully meet the unique needs of each child and family, providing the highest quality of care and support.  Here is a link to our family survey.  Please share your insight with us by Wednesday, 7/15.  Your timely feedback will help to ensure our plans are responsive to the needs of our East Prairie community.


Our goal as a school is to be clear, transparent, and consistent in our communication with families.  We know there is a lot of misinformation when it comes to reopening schools, and we want to ensure clarity, understanding, and a genuine two-way dialogue for our families.  Accordingly, the following principles guide all of our planning and decision-making:

- Ensuring the health, safety, and wellness of children, adults, and our broader community.
- Partnering with families to guarantee the social, emotional, physical, and academic needs of ALL children are fully supported.  
- Collaboration with all stakeholders to assure our plans meet the unique needs of our East Prairie community.
- Ongoing flexibility, responsiveness, and grace so that our plans reflect best-practice, our very best thinking, and the needs of the moment.  This is ongoing and incremental work.
- Acting towards equity to ensure that all of our policies, programs, and practices affirm the unique strengths, diverse backgrounds and life experiences of our children, families, and community; delivering comprehensive opportunities for ALL to achieve and succeed.

As such, we will adhere to the joint Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) and Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) guidelines to the fullest extent possible.  We will continue to collaborate with health and governmental agencies to ensure our plans reflect best-practices and are grounded in science, reason, and evidence.  We strive to be the model for what high-quality and creative learning looks like, while ensuring the health and wellbeing of our community. 

Our current timeline is to continue collaborating throughout July with our teachers, families, board of education, and community to further develop our reopening and remote learning plans.  Our goal is to share a detailed plan with families at the end of July.  We will accompany the release of this plan with several family engagement opportunities (plan presentations, Q&As, etc.).  We will continue to communicate regularly and update you on any changes to this plan.

While hardship and uncertainty remain, we are confident in our ability to come together to serve our children and families.  Collaboration, determination, and candor will help lift us to new heights.  Thank you for your ongoing help and support as we rise to this immense challenge together!

In partnership,
The East Prairie Team

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Monday, June 29, 2020

Reopening update

Dear East Prairie families,

We hope the first few weeks of summer find you healthy, happy, and enjoying the gift of summer!  This past week, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) and Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) announced guidelines that will allow schools to resume in-person instruction safely for the upcoming 2020-21 school year.  A full return to our “normal” school environment is not likely until Phase 5 of the Restore Illinois plan, which is likely still  several months away.  All schools in Illinois serving Pre-K through grade 12 must follow these guidelines; mandates include: appropriate social distancing, face coverings, enhanced sanitation, screening procedures, and other accommodating measures.  See STARTING THE 2020–21 SCHOOL YEAR for a full list of guidance provided by these agencies.

This document will help us begin to answer the critical questions about what the 2020-21 school year will look like in terms of in-person learning, remote learning,  or a blended model, as well as, scheduling, transportation, PPE and face coverings, social distancing and other measures intended to keep everyone safe and healthy, while also re-engaging students in the learning process.  We will rely on this detailed guidance, and other expected updates, as we begin to transition to next school year, holding the health and safety of our students and community first and foremost.

Moving forward, we will reach out with timely communication  as we develop and finalize specific plans for what school at East Prairie will look like in the fall.  We are keenly aware of the urgent need to communicate with families about what to expect next school year and anticipate releasing our own transition plan as soon as possible.  Furthermore, we will be reaching out soon with ways we seek to involve families in this process.  Your input and perspective is essential to us serving our EPS community to the fullest extent possible. 

As you may already know, our district began preparing for reopening this spring and has formed reopening committees that have been brainstorming potential options and plans.  This most recent guidance will accelerate those conversations, and we are confident in our ability to put forth a plan that prioritizes the health and safety of our learning community while maintaining a dynamic learning environment for all students.  Again, we will be reaching out for parental input in July to further guide our planning efforts.

While we work on developing a plan that returns students to as much in person instruction as possible, we must comply with ISBE and IDPH mandates.  In order to help our families plan for the start of next year, we are advising families to be prepared for a scenario where your child may not attend school every day when school begins.  While no final decision has been made, and the guidance is expected to evolve, we would rather have you plan for this possibility proactively.  

Thank you for your patience, understanding, flexibility, and grace as our district navigates the challenges of this pandemic.  We are committed to collaboration as we diligently work to ensure our plans best serve the unique needs of our East Prairie community. We will continue to keep you updated throughout this process and will share more  specific plans as they are developed.  In the meantime, we wish you a safe, happy, and healthy summer!

In partnership,
The East Prairie Team

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Construction update

Construction is nearing completion!  Thank you for staying off the equipment and out of the area until it is safe to do so.  We look forward to enjoying this beautiful space all together soon!