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Back-to-School: East St. Louis schools on new AAPI curriculum, clear backpacks and dropping uniforms

East St. Louis School District went back to school Thursday with some new changes implemented.

EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. — To start the year, students in East St. Louis School District returned to in-person learning Thursday morning. 

East St. Louis schools will adjust their COVID-19 strategy if cases spike. As of now, remote learning is only pre-approved for students who aren't eligible for a vaccine, who have been quarantined or students who have family with underlying health conditions.  

There are new rules in place this year for some schools in the district. 

This year, clear backpacks are required for Lincoln Middle, Mason/Clark Middle, Bush Alternative Center and East St. Louis Senior High School students. Alternatively, students may use binders. The district hopes this will improve safety. 

The only exception to the rule is for small purses or pouches used to hold personal hygiene products or cell phones.

The district has also dropped the uniform requirement for high schoolers. There is a dress code for students. Officials hope this will improve student morale.  

This is the first year AAPI history courses will be taught in East St.. Louis School District and all other Illinois public schools. 

The Teaching Equitable Asian American History (TEAACH) Act was signed by Gov. JB Pritzker in July 2021 to educate students and help combat false stereotypes at the height of hate crimes during COVID-19 pandemic. We spoke with the Director of Curriculum for East St. Louis School District, Antoinette Johnson, who said the curriculum will be worked into social studies, history, science and math classes for students. 

She adds, teachers have been attending several monthly meetings leading up to the first day of class to design the lesson plans for the new AAPI curriculum. 

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