April 2, 2021
Dear IMSA Community,
I am writing to share with you a difficult announcement. Today, at 1:44 p.m., I was notified that the Resident Counselors Council, AFT Local 604, IFT-AFT, AFL-CIO filed an unfair labor practice (ULP) with the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board (IELRB) against IMSA. The ULP alleges that management engaged in unilateral decisions to reopen campus for repopulation and seeks to have a court injunction that would not allow us to open on Monday, April 5, 2021.
As you know, we have done everything in our power as an administration with incredible support from IMSA staff to bring our students back to campus for in-person living and learning in a safe and thoughtful manner. While we are confident that there is no basis for these charges and that we have followed all CDC and IDPH protocols to ensure a safe cohort experience, it is essential for our students to be placed in a positive, nurturing environment where they are psychologically safe and well supported by staff, including resident counselors. Regardless of any rulings, given the RC Council’s action, we do not believe the current circumstances allow for a genuine IMSA experience.
Therefore, it is with a heavy heart that I announce the cancellation of our repopulation plans and a decision to continue the rest of the semester in distance learning. Next week, I will communicate additional information about our plans, including our continued plans for in-person graduation on June 5.
I would like to thank the Repopulation Task Force who worked diligently with incredible hope that we would be able to bring everyone together. Again, we will remain in distance learning and more information will be shared next week.
José M. Torres, Ph.D.
April 1, 2021
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 email@example.com. 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.
March 8, 2021
Questions about Repopulation
At the PAC meeting over the weekend, several parents alerted us to the fact that updates were not being released to the Return to Learn Q&A document. This was an error that has now been addressed. New responses have been added today and more will be shared before the end of the week.
February 19, 2021
On February 19, Dr. Torres made the decision to open the IMSA campus for a low-density, in-person learning experience in a safe and thoughtful manner beginning April 8, 2021. So that all students can be served in a healthy and safe way, a cohort model will be followed. With that, sophomore students will be in the first cohort, together with half of the junior class, for an in-person experience April 8-April 29. The second cohort will include the other half of the junior class and the entire senior class May 10-28. Seniors will be invited to stay through graduation on June 5 for a week of celebration activities. Students and families have the choice to opt-in to the full residential learning experience cohort or opt-out and remain in distance learning. Before arriving on campus, students will be required to learn about important health and safety protocols in IMSA’s Repopulation Plan and Addendum. The global pandemic is not yet over and IMSA will continue to pivot quickly should health conditions or the state require it. As part of our commitment to health and safety, IMSA will have a Return to Campus Monitoring Advisory Committee.
The IMSA Emergency Student Relief Fund has been established with the hope to provide financial assistance to our community’s low income students for essentials like food, rent, and utilities, as well as access to technology for remote learning.
We are united as One IMSA caring for others with One Heart.
- CDC: Steps to Prevent Illness
- CDC Travel Website
- IDPH: Coronavirus Information
- IDPH: Guidance for K-12 Schools
- IDPH: Guidance for Students
- IDPH: Guidance for Universities and Colleges
- Understanding Coronavirus: What Schools Need to Know
- What To Do If You Are Sick
- Recommendations for Exposure
- Restore Illinois Plan