Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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City-School Liaison Committee discusses emergency preparedness, wraparound strategies

Daily file photo by Onyekaorise Chigbogwu
Both local school districts are collaborating with the Evanston Police Department for their emergency responses.

The Evanston City-School Liaison Committee discussed emergency preparedness strategies and the implementation of wraparound services at its meeting Thursday. 

The committee consists of Board of Education members from Evanston/Skokie School District 65 and Evanston Township High School District 202, as well as three Evanston city councilmembers. None of the councilmembers were present Thursday. 

Committee members discussed the importance of streamlining emergency procedures between districts. 

Currently, District 65 teaches students to respond to emergencies using the five-step ALICE protocol: alert, lockdown, inform, counter and evacuate. District 202 uses “Run, Hide, Fight,” a system created by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

District 202 Director of Safety Loyce Spells said both districts would benefit from a consistent response to emergencies. 

“What happens (in District 202) impacts 65, and what happens in 65 impacts 202,” he said. 

Spells also emphasized the importance of collaborating with the Evanston Police Department during emergencies. 

EPD officers recently held a training session at ETHS, according to Spells. He said the training was important because it is easy to get lost in the building. 

“Time saves lives, so it’s imperative that responding units and first responders know exactly where to go as quickly as possible,” Spells said. 

School board members discussed ensuring that communication between districts and families is consistent during emergencies. District 65 School Board Member Elisabeth Lindsay-Ryan said the districts have too many families in common not to use the same protocols. 

The city plans to create a more comprehensive emergency plan in the near future to encompass schools, hospitals, and regional and state agencies, Spells said. 

District 65 Interim Superintendent Angel Turner said these emergency plans are a work in progress but are moving in the right direction. 

“We’re really trying to ensure that it’s the system that will hold itself and that people don’t hold the actual system,” Turner said. “We’re just continuing to make them better over time.” 

The committee also discussed plans to implement wraparound services, mental health services aimed at addressing the underlying causes of mental health issues and responding to crises.  

The city’s wraparound services are modeled after Wraparound Milwaukee, according to District 202 Assistant Superintendent and ETHS Principal Taya Kinzie. The Evanston Community Foundation gave the city‘s Mental Health Task Force an initial grant to fund the development of wraparound infrastructure. 

Kinzie said Wraparound Milwaukee is expected to send a report on its work to Evanston so the city can share the findings with school districts and agencies looking to implement similar services. 

Milwaukee recommended that Evanston centralize its wraparound services, according to Kinzie. She said the city is considering centralizing the services at Evanston Cradle to Career, a community partnership aiming to improve the lives of local families and children. 

Kinzie said the city will begin to use cloud software ECINS with several agencies when releasing information about the services to families. 

“It’s about streamlining our own communication so we can better serve families,” Kinzie said. 

The committee also briefly discussed construction around the city to ensure schools could operate smoothly during the remainder of the school year and the summer. Construction around Dodge Avenue interfered with bus routes and foot traffic around the start of the 2023-24 school year, Lindsay-Ryan said. 

Spells emphasized the importance of systems that support students’ health and safety needs. 

“Failing to plan is a plan to fail,” he said. “We must hope for the best and prepare for the worst. That is truly my vision.” 

Correction: A previous version of this story misstated the name of the cloud software the city will use to release information about wraparound services. The article has also been updated to better reflect the purpose of the Evanston Community Foundation grant. The Daily regrets these errors.

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