Chicago International Charter School Celebrates School Quality Improvements

Last week, Chicago Public Schools released school performance results – School Quality Rating Policy (SQRP) – from the 2015-2016 school year. CICS has a lot to celebrate and more work to do. We are proud to announce our third consecutive year of improvement across the network, with six of our campuses rated in the top two performance categories of SQRP. These achievements are the results of the talented and committed teachers, leaders, and operators working tirelessly for our students.

Closing All CICS Schools: March 16 through March 30

March 13, 2020

Dear CICS Families, 

We have appreciated your support, feedback and patience over the last two weeks as we have worked together to navigate the uncertainty and disruption caused by COVID-19. In alignment with Governor Pritzker’s mandate to close all Illinois schools and under the guidance of public health officials, CICS will close all of our schools beginning on March 16 through at least March 30, with the possibility of a longer closure, depending on the circumstances at the end of the month. 

Please know that this is not a decision that we have taken lightly, but one that we have made to put the health and well-being of our students, families, staff and communities at the forefront. We understand that the next two weeks, and possibly longer, will be difficult and, in partnership with Distinctive Schools, Civitas Education Partners and ReGeneration Schools, CICS plans to support our students and families in every way that we can. We recognize the incredible burden this puts on our families, and that, while it helps us mitigate the spread of the virus, it creates other significant challenges. Thank you for understanding that this decision was made to support the well-being of our community. 

CICS and our SMO partners are committed to supporting our students’ continued learning throughout the closure. On Monday, school leadership teams and office staff will be at each CICS campus to distribute virtual learning materials to families that did not receive them on Friday. Individual campuses will communicate instructions for the distribution of these materials to their families no later than Sunday at noon. We are actively working with CPS and our food service provider to determine the method for the distribution of meals for our students throughout the closure. Where possible, we sent students home today with breakfast items for Monday morning in case of a potential closure. We are also working with CPS to create a list of community supports for child care, as we know this closure creates a burden on our families. We will follow up no later than the end of day on Monday with more information about these resources. 

Throughout the closure, we will communicate with our parents and guardians via email on a weekly basis, or more frequently as needed and we will share updates via the CICS website,

For the most reliable and up-to-date information, please visit or If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the CDPH Coronavirus hotline at 312-746-4835 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. You may also reach out to the CICS COVID-19 Response Team at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or CICS Main Office by phone at 312-651-5000.  

Please know that our CICS team is here to provide resources and support to you and your child throughout this challenging situation. During times like these, we commit to coming together to take care of every member of the CICS community.




Elizabeth Shaw


Chicago International Charter School


Closing All CICS Schools: March 16 through March 30_pdf

Closing All CICS Schools: March 16 through March 30_Spanish_pdf

Educator Spotlight: Eric Austin

I am the principal for Avalon middle school. 

What attracted you to CICS Avalon?

My first teaching job right out of college was to teach middle grade students. But over the last two years, I taught history to 12th graders. I love every one of my teaching moments, but I knew I wanted to get back to my teaching roots. Avalon was just that opportunity.  The moment I walked into the building, I felt the energy and passion of every teacher and staff member. The people in our building love our students and they are willing to go the extra mile for them every day. 

After graduating from college, I chose to teach in Nashville, Tennessee and to give back to my community.  I thought I would only teach for a couple of years, and then move on to something else. However, after my first month of working with kids, it was clear to me that I’d found my careerpath.

I love watching my students academically grow throughout the course of the school year. I look over their portfolios at the end of the school year and see that many reach their academic goals.  The realization that they have the ability to “make their brains grow” is the fuel we use to get through the challenges together.

As educators, we are just one piece of every student’s unique success puzzle. Many of our students come to school while facing obstacles at home and in their neighborhoods. As educators who love our students deeply, it can be difficult to grapple with their challenges. However, by doing everything we can for our students while they’re at school, and working hard to build great relationships with their parents, we can help our students to overcome these challenges.

As this is my first year at Avalon, my focus is on ensuring that the outstanding foundation, built before I arrived, is strong and stable. Once I get my sea legs, I’ll have a better idea of how I want to bring Avalon up to the next level in the years to come. My focus from day one has been to assure that our staff functions as an air-tight team. This is very important to me and I want to ensure that every adult knows that they are deeply valued and appreciated for the work they do every day.

I’ve taught several subjects to multiple age groups over the years. My superpower is the ability to make any topic engaging and relevant for my students. I pride myself on having the students that I’ve taught to be deeply invested in the learning.

Focus on the positives. Since we’re so invested in this work, we take it personally when we or our students fall short. By intentionally training your mind to identify and focus on the positives, you can ensure your own longevity in the education field. There’re so many good things happening all the time. You just have to look for them!

School attendance is the first and most critical component to student success. If I could wave a magic wand, 100% of my students would be in the building, on time, every single day!  I’m going to work tirelessly to make this a reality at Avalon.



Family Update: CICS Response to COVID-19

March 13, 2020

Dear CICS Families: 

I want to thank each of you for your attention to the developing situation regarding COVID-19, or coronavirus, in Chicago and nationally. As of now, we are not aware of any confirmed cases of or concerning exposure to COVID-19 at any of our campuses. I want to assure you that CICS is closely monitoring the situation and working with CPS and local public health officials to offer guidance to our staff, students and families. As always, the health and safety of our students and teammates are our highest priorities.  

Over the last week, CICS has put together a COVID-19 Response Team to stay up-to-date on the latest local developments and recommendations from CPS, the Chicago Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control, as well as to field questions from our staff and families and develop and communicate guidance as CICS responds to the evolving COVID-19 situation. While it is our hope that our schools will remain open and operating on their regular schedules in the weeks and months ahead, we are also working on contingency plans for remote learning and for access to the school food program in the event of a prolonged closure. Please complete this two-minute survey so that we can properly prepare for support should we need to close one or more campuses. 

We’re also taking reasonable precautions to limit the exposure to and prevent the spread of COVID-19 within our schools and the surrounding communities. While we are still permitting local travel within the Chicago city limits, we have made the difficult decision to cancel or postpone all staff and student non-local domestic and international travel on behalf of CICS from now through April 10, 2020, the last day of Spring Break. This includes CICS-sponsored and coordinated student spring break trips and college tours. We recognize how disappointing this decision may be, especially for trips that our students have been anticipating for some time, but this month-long pause will allow us to focus on limiting potential exposure and managing risks, while we monitor the latest developments. 

We will also be canceling or postponing student gatherings and events outside of the regular school day. After-school programs will continue at our campuses as scheduled. Cancelled or postponed events may include concerts, parent events and dances, and your school director will follow up with more details about plans for scheduled events. 

Please remember to continue practicing reasonable precautionary measuresto keep yourself healthy and prevent the spread of the virus, which include regularly disinfecting frequently touched objects, frequently washing your hands, avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth, and staying home if you are feeling ill or exhibiting symptoms such as fever, coughing and/or shortness of breath. If you are known to have come into contact with someone who has COVID-19, or if you have any other concerns of exposure in general or at the campus, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and your school director immediately. 

For the most reliable and up-to-date information, please visit or If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the CDPH Coronavirus hotline at 312-746-4835 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. You may also reach out to the CICS’ COVID-19 response team line at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or CICS Main Office by phone at 312-651-5000.  

While the current situation is concerning, there is quite a bit that we can do to limit exposure to and prevent the spread of the virus. I assure you that our team is continuing to follow the latest developments and we will continue to update our families as the situation evolves. Thank you for your continued trust in CICS and for allowing us to continue to be a resource for you and your family. 



Elizabeth Shaw


Chicago International Charter Schools



Meal pickup and additional resources during school closure

Dear CICS families,

I am writing to follow up with additional details regarding access to student meals during the school closure. 

In partnership with our food service provider, Aramark, CICS will have free ‘grab and go’ lunch + breakfast for students.  We want to reassure you that there will be no change to CICS 'food service. Drive-through meal pickup will continue to be available throughout the school closure at all CICS elementary schools on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 11 am to 1 pm. Alternatively, meals can be picked up at most CPS schools from 9 am to 1 pm daily or for CPS delivery call (773) 553-5437 or contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

There is no student ID or proof of address required to receive these meals. All meals will be distributed outside of the school building by food service staff; no students or family members will be permitted to enter the building.

Location: All CICS campuses (NOTE: You can go to whichever CICS campus is most convenient for you; you do not need to pick up meals from the campus you attend. Go to for a map and complete list of CICS campuses.)

CICS Meal Pickup Locations weekdays (Mon. Wed. and Fri. from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.)

We hope these meal pickup options help alleviate some of the burden that school closure places on our families. Please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 312-651-5000 if you have questions about meal pickup throughout the closure.

The Chicago Department of Public Health advises everyone to stay home. If that is not an option, all Chicago parks and park fieldhouses, with the exception of our smallest facilities and CPS school parks, will remain open during normal operating hours for basic needs (i.e. washrooms and shelter).

In response to Chicago schools closing, the District will provide enhanced programming at 18 designated parks (see map below for exact locations). Families in need of these services can expect age-appropriate activities for students. It is important to note, the District must limit capacity at each location to 250 in order to combat the community spread of COVID-19. 

We will continue to share information and resources with our families as it becomes available, and will post the most updated information on our website at If you have questions or need additional support, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call our main office at 312-651-5000. You will receive a response within 24 hours.

Thank you,

Elizabeth Shaw


Chicago International Charter School

 Meal pickup and additional resources during school closure_Spanish Translation


School closure extended through April 20

Dear CICS families, 

 Minutes ago, Mayor Lightfoot announced that all CPS schools will remain closed through April 20. Given the necessity of this action to protect the health and well-being of our students, families and communities, CICS will follow suit. Please note that our previously scheduled Spring Break from April 6 through April 10 will continue as planned and we will not provide teacher-directed instruction during that week. We will follow up with more details and guidance as we learn more, but please know that we are committed to supporting our students throughout this extended closure.

These are unprecedented times and I urge you to please stay informed and take care of yourselves, as we will all be in this for what feels like a very long haul. 

Take care, 



[Spanish Translation]

Asunto:  Cierre de la escuela extendido hasta el 20 de abril.

Estimadas familias de CICS:

Hace solo unos minutos, el alcalde Lightfoot anuncio que todas las escuelas de CPS permanecerán cerradas hasta el 20 de abril. Dada la necesidad de esta acción para proteger la salud y el bienestar de nuestros estudiantes, familias y comunidades, CICS hará lo mismo. Tenga en cuenta que nuestras vacaciones de primavera programadas previamente del 6 al 10 de abril continuarán según lo planeado y no proporcionaremos instrucción durante esa semana. Seguiremos con más detalles y orientación a medida que aprendamos más, pero tenga en cuenta que estamos comprometidos a apoyar a nuestros estudiantes durante este cierre prolongado.

Estos son tiempos sin precedentes y les insto a que se mantengan informados y se cuiden, ya que todos estaremos en esto por lo que parece ser un viaje muy largo.



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