Dear Students and Parents,
I am writing to announce a change to academic instruction for the in-person Cohort One experience as originally prescribed in IMSA’s Repopulation Plan. Our goal has always been to return to IMSA for in-person teaching, learning and working. IMSA’s administration, staff, including faculty, and a dedicated Transition Task Force have been working diligently for the past nine months on a plan built with guidance from health officials, best practices and subject matter expertise to ensure in-person learning safely. In addition, we partnered with a healthcare provider to make the vaccine available to IMSA staff, including faculty. Those who chose to be vaccinated have received their second dose.
This week, IMSA Council, Local 604 AFT/IFT shared a decision that teachers who were scheduled to be on campus for the first of two in-person cohort living and learning experiences beginning April 5, 2021 will instead continue to teach remotely until IMSA is able to meet their request for special health and safety accommodations above and beyond what is required by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH). In the meantime, the first cohort of students will meet for in-person classes on campus starting April 8, 2021 as planned, but the instruction delivery will be conducted virtually using Zoom and Canvas. Teachers are welcome to come back on-site for in person learning and instruction at any time.
While independence is a hallmark of the IMSA experience, our full student-facing staff, which has been enhanced and increased, as well as members of the Principal’s Office, Center for Teaching and Learning and IMSA staff from across the Academy will serve as classroom monitors to ensure the safety of the students and promote an environment conducive to learning for all courses offering in-person instruction. Classroom monitors will have a presence in the classroom at the start and conclusion of the class, and at least twice during the mod. All IMSA staff members will have completed health and safety training on or before April 5.
Let me be clear that IMSA has strictly adhered to all CDC and IDPH prevention guidelines to help protect students and staff, including faculty, in order to safely open for in-person instruction in a cohort model.
Repopulation must be a collaborative, active effort; so we want to thank our staff members who have stepped up to the plate to assist in filling the need for on-site students. For students and parents, we realize this is an unexpected change to our Repopulation Plan. As always, students and families have the choice to opt-out of the in-person cohort experience by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. We ask that this is communicated to us no later than 24 hours before the student’s assigned move in day.
We believe this instructional delivery change for in-person Cohort One is the best way forward to rescue a living and learning experience for our students, especially the sophomores who have never been on campus, and the juniors who would otherwise not have the opportunity to spend this purposeful time together.
Thank you for patience and understanding as we continue to navigate unprecedented times.
José M. Torres, Ph.D.