Planning the Resumption of Programs and Operations on Campus

N-12 Education

As we plan for the upcoming academic year, the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools are committed to providing a safe, inclusive learning environment for our entire community that prioritizes public health guidelines, including guidance from the UChicago Medicine’s epidemiological team, and the pedological best practices you know and expect from the Laboratory Schools.

2020-2021 Academic Year Updates

Though the Laboratory Schools would love to welcome all students back on campus for the first day of classes on September 8, we also understand that the public health landscape in a pandemic evolves quickly. We therefore are planning for multiple scenarios, with the goals of minimizing disruption to educational experiences of all our students and supporting our faculty in their professional development and ability to deliver best-in-class instruction and care. We also want to emphasize that through the Laboratory Schools’ fall planning, we continue to be grateful for our Lab families’ commitment to our institution and value your engagement in the collective pursuit of our mission.

We know that the 2020-2021 academic year at the Laboratory Schools will look and feel different than it has in previous years, and that students, families, faculty, and staff will need to commit to the collective health of the Lab community by complying with the most recent public health guidelines including face covering, distancing, hand-washing, self-monitoring for illness and staying home when you feel sick.

But what we know will remain constant is our dedication to the highest levels of academic excellence and the values that define our Lab community. To meet this moment, the Lab Fall Planning Working Group has outlined the following tenets for the resumption of classes this fall:

  • In making operational decisions for the 2020-2021 academic year, the Laboratory Schools will take into account: public health guidance and regulations from federal, state, and local authorities; the Illinois State Board of Education; the University of Chicago’s epidemiological expertise and standards; and the needs of our students, families, faculty, and staff.
  • Though Lab is working toward getting as many students as possible onsite for an in-person educational experience, we have developed three program options for fall to ensure maximum flexibility to adapt to evolving public health guidelines and prioritizing the safety and wellbeing of the Lab community: fully remote, a hybrid program that combines remote and in-person, and fully in-person.
  • Lab’s potential hybrid program will maximize the use of Lab’s physical spaces and focus on delivering a developmentally appropriate pedagogy and supporting the social and emotional health and well-being of all students.
  • Based on current plans, Lab’s youngest students, grades N3-5, will have priority for onsite, in-person learning for the fall. We are working to optimize the amount of time Lab’s middle and high school students are able to spend on campus, with our goal being at least one week onsite for every week remote.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the focus of the Laboratory Schools planning group?

The University of Chicago Laboratory Schools (Lab) planning group is working with Lab leadership and University experts in health and safety, facilities management, information technology, law, and communications to help develop in-person, remote, and hybrid education models for fall 2020. Key considerations include public health guidance, the well-being of Lab students, information from parent, teacher, and student surveys, the creative use of Lab’s facilities, alternative academic schedules, and contingencies for responding flexibly to the Lab community’s evolving needs.

Who is in the Laboratory Schools planning group?
University of Chicago Planning Group
Name Unit
Daniel Abebe (chair) Office of the Provost
Catherine Braendel University of Chicago Laboratory Schools
Arthur Del Muro Facilities Services
David Magill University of Chicago Laboratory Schools
Dillan Siegler Office of the Provost
Kim Taylor Office of Legal Counsel
Marc Klein Office of Legal Counsel
Matthew Meyer IT Services
Meredith Shiner Communications

Note: Italics signify faculty members.

Laboratory Schools Fall 2020 Planning Team
Laboratory Schools Central Working Group
Asra Ahmed Assistant Principal, High School
Brent LaRowe Director, Registrar Services & Information Management
Carla Ellis Assistant Director of Schools
Catherine Braendel Strategic Advisor, Director of Communications & Marketing
Jessica Hanzlik Assistant Principal, Middle School
Paul Beekmeyer High School Principal
Sarah Abella Dean of Students, N-2
Uzma Bogwani Assistant Principal, Lower School

Area Specialists Subgroup: Learning Model
Carla Ellis (lead) Assistant Director of Schools
Brent LaRowe Director, Registrar Services & Information Management
Daniel Ryan N-2 Principal
Paul Beekmeyer High School Principal
Ryan Allen (Incoming) Middle School Principal
Sandy Bixby (Outgoing) Middle School Principal
Sylvie Anglin Lower School Principal

The following Lab groups are also members of the Learning Model Workstream and provide essential expertise and guidance: Deans; Assistant Principals; Student Services (Learning & Counseling) Team; Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) professionals; Faculty Association division-level representatives; department and grade-level chairs, grade-level teams, and special areas; Middle and High School steering committees; High School curriculum committee; and via surveys, faculty, staff, parents, and students in grades 5-12.

Area Specialists Subgroup: Safety/Security/Logistics
Brian Hewlett (lead) Interim Associate Director
Arthur Del Muro University of Chicago
Joan Fiesta Security
Joseph Wachowski Facilities
Kristen Szewczyk Medical
Matthew Meyer University of Chicago
Monica Bahroos IT

What are the guiding principles for the Laboratory Schools planning group?

The University of Chicago Laboratory Schools (Lab) is a critical part of the University and home to the youngest members of our community. As Lab faces the challenges of the global pandemic, it remains committed to meeting its mission and offering a progressive education that reflects the highest levels of academic excellence and promotes the well-being of its students, faculty, staff, and families. Fall planning at Lab embodies these values and will be guided by the following principles:

1. Prioritize the health, safety, and well-being of the entire Lab community
2. Provide a high-quality, progressive education in imaginative new ways aligned with Lab’s mission
3. Value consistency and streamlined systems to benefit Lab students, faculty, staff, and families and enhance Lab’s agility
4. Ensure Lab continues to meet the needs of its diverse student and family communities with an inclusive program
5. Preserve Lab’s financial and operational integrity

As we plan for the upcoming school year, the UChicago Charter Schools (UCCS) are committed to providing a safe, inclusive learning environment for our entire community — one that prioritizes public health guidelines, including the guidance of UChicago Medicine’s epidemiological team, and the best teaching practices that meet the social-emotional needs of our students.

2020-2021 Academic Year Updates

The past few months have been challenging for many Chicago residents, including our students and parents. As we look toward fall, we know we need to be prepared for multiple educational delivery scenarios to meet an evolving public health landscape and to continue to serve as a touchstone for our families, who rely on us to support them and connect them to vital services they need.

We also know that a feature of the UCCS experience is our high-touch approach to education, and we understand that this experience is different via remote learning, even as we have worked diligently to provide all our students access to devices and Internet connectivity. As we move forward with our plans for multiple scenarios, our goals are to minimize the disruption to the educational experience of our students and to support our teachers and staff in their professional development and ability to deliver best-in-class instruction and care.

We expect that back-to-school at UCCS will look and feel different than it has in previous years, and that students, parents, faculty, and staff will need to commit to the collective health of our community by complying with the applicable public health guidelines including face covering, distancing, hand-washing, self-monitoring for illness and staying home when you feel sick. Together with University leaders and in accordance with government directives, we are working toward providing clear health and safety guidelines to all our community members as soon as we can.

To meet this moment, the Charter Planning Group has outlined the following tenets for our plans to resume classes this fall:

  • UCCS’s priority is to have all students return to school to resume in-person educational experiences, in a safe and healthy environment. However, in order to meet evolving public health guidelines, UCCS is preparing for multiple contingencies, including fully remote and dual-modality options.
  • Based on current plans, all UCCS students PreK-12 will have in-person learning opportunities, with special attention on social emotional needs along with special education services and the safe distribution of food to students.
  • According to public health guidance, congregating is best when done outdoors. For this reason, and in order to expand learning spaces, outdoor instruction, when possible, is under consideration.

Guidelines from public health officials, the State of Illinois, the City of Chicago, Chicago Public Schools, and the UChicago Medicine’s epidemiological experts will impact how UCCS is able to proceed, and leaders are actively monitoring developments from each critical stakeholder to devise the safest, most effective model of education for our entire community.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the focus of the Charter School planning group?

The UChicago Charter School planning group is working with Charter leadership, teachers, public health officials, and facilities management to develop recommendations for in-person education models for fall 2020 that ensure the health, safety, and well-being of students, faculty, staff, and families, and deliver a distinctive model of education consistent with UChicago Charter values and mission. This includes contingency planning for remote and hybrid learning as may be required by public health guidelines.

Who is in the Charter School planning group?
Overall Scenario Planning
Name Unit
Charna Epstein Urban Education Institute
Deborah Gorman-Smith (chair) School of Social Service Administration
Duane Davis Office of the President
Ellen Wetmore Office of Legal Counsel
Jerrold Washington UChicago Charter School
Marc Klein Office of Legal Counsel
Meredith Shiner Communications
Tanika Island Childress UChicago Charter School
Todd Barnett UChicago Charter School

Note: Italics signify faculty members.

Facilities and Logistics
Deborah Gorman-Smith Dean, School of Social Service Administration
Adrienne Bonds Operations Manager, UChicago Charter
Carol Love Operations Manager, UChicago Charter
Charna Epstein COO, UChicago Charter
Duane Davis Executive Director K12 Education Initiatives
Jeanne Nowaczewski Director of Human Resources, Urban Education Institute
Latasha McMillon Operations Manager, UChicago Charter
Linda Gibson Operations Manager, UChicago Charter
Todd Barnett Director of Partnerships, UChicago Charter

Education/Learning
Aneesa Sergeant Campus Director, North Kenwood/Oakland
Daena Adams Campus Director, Woodlawn High School
Donald Gordon Campus Director, Woodlawn Middle School
Erin Gilmore Slack Campus Director, Donoghue
Jerrold Washington Chief Academic Officer, UChicago Charter
Tanika Island Childress Chief Executive Officer, UChicago Charter

Support for UCCS Community/Family and Community Engagement
Duane Davis Executive Director K-12 Initiatives, UChicago
Emily Oros UCCS School Psychologist & Diverse Learners Director
Franklin Cosey-Gay Executive Director, Chicago Center for Youth Violence Prevention, SSA
LaTonya Hill Director of Family and Community Engagement, UChicago Charter
Todd Barnett Director of Partnerships, UChicago Charter
What are the guiding principles for the Charter School planning group?

As UCCS faces the challenges of the pandemic, it remains committed to ensuring the health, safety, and well-being of our students, faculty, staff, and families, and to delivering a distinctive model of education consistent with our values and mission. Fall planning is guided by the following principles:

1. Prioritize the health, safety, and well-being of the entire UCCS community
2. Provide a high-quality education that cultivates culturally aware critical thinkers and leaders
3. Ensuring access and equity for all students
4. Address the stress and trauma that all members of the UCCS community have experienced
5. Preserve UCCS’s financial and operational integrity