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.

CICS Irving Park Sets My Daughter Up For Success

My name is Kathy Zerega. I am a lifelong resident of Chicago and today I live in the city with my husband and our daughter, Sophia. Sophia just finished 2nd grade at CICS Irving Park and is so excited to start 3rd grade in the fall!

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: Kevin Kreller

What is your role at your school?

I am a Mentor Teacher at CICS Irving Park. I teach three sections of 8th-grade History, co-teach a section of Algebra, and I help coach teachers.

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


Parent: Christy Schmidt – CICS Irving Park

My husband and I were looking for the best option for our two children. Our neighborhood has great elementary schools, but we wanted options, a choice. We know of a few other families at CICS-IP and how much they loved it.  So we started thinking our children should attend CICS-IP. We liked all the possibilities – at the time, it sounded like students here are being prepared for high school. After touring the Irving Park campus and understanding their personalized learning curriculum, we decided this was the best option for us and our children.

Parent: Erin Fox - CICS Irving Park

We were looking for a school that offered differentiated learning of some sort. We originally enrolled in a Catholic school since the Chicago Public School lotteries were unsuccessful for us. A week before CICS-IP started its school year, we received a call that a spot was open. After a few calls and some investigation, we decided to send our daughter to CICS-IP because of the differentiated learning program.

Parent: Johanna Fricano – CICS Irving Park

For us, our decision came during our child’s second year at CICS-Irving Park. For kindergarten, CICS-IP was logistically the best option for us. The campus was on my way to work and provided a reasonably priced aftercare option. My husband and I felt good about the school when we both went to an open house, so we thought why not try it and apply the following year. We ended up loving the school and had found our home at CICS-IP! 

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.



Voices Blog: Brandy Holton - CICS Irving Park

I’m a huge advocate of children having fun and feeling confident while learning! I love hands-on and highly engaging learning activities being taught in the classroom--this teaching style is what makes being a middle school science teacher exciting. As an educator, I’ve often wondered how to meaningfully incorporate these crucial components into my daily lesson plans.

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