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East Austin College Prep- Promesa Public...

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Texas School Takes Action to Meet Community Needs During COVID-19

East Austin College Prep (EAPrep), a local school in Austin, Texas, meets student, parent, and staff needs during the pandemic from ensuring all students have access to reliable technology to engaging staff with virtual circles and mindfulness activities.

Austin, TX, July 15, 2020 --( East Austin College Prep (EAPrep)- Promesa Public Schools just received another round of funding through the Texas Education Agency’s Community Partnership Grant to continue its Project CARE initiative that helps ensure that the students, teachers, and families they serve have their needs met during the COVID-19 pandemic. Project CARE, a program within EAPrep run by EAPrep staff, is the foundation of the school’s healing-centered education model. Project CARE cultivates a culture of safety, connection, and belonging for all students at both campuses through the collective action of school-based staff and community-based partners.

Through the instrumental work from the Parent Involvement Team (Project CARE, ACE, and Upward Bound), EAPrep has been able to support students, staff, and parents during the pandemic.

As a healing-centered school, EAPrep ensures that all students who need or are suspected of needing counseling receive relevant support and services. Students who were receiving counseling services individually or within groups during the regular school year have been sought out virtually by their counselors to continue their support services. Approximately 75% of these students are continuing to receive counseling services via telehealth. Additionally, at the rise of the pandemic, EAPrep worked to ensure every student had access to the technology needed to successfully partake in remote instruction. Project CARE, with the support of EAPrep, supplied 275 Chromebooks to students and determined internet capabilities were up to par for 100% of students and their families.

One of the support staff at the secondary campus professed with gratitude, “Project CARE continues to help our students during this time when they need it most! I feel very fortunate that all of our students have the option to receive counseling and think it's amazing that they [Project CARE] have the staff capacity to offer this. For some of my students, their counseling appointment with Project CARE staff is the highlight of their week.”

Project CARE and the Parent Involvement Team kept parents involved in the process of delivering remote instruction and counseling services to students. The Parent Involvement Team and EAPrep staff conducted one-on-one conversations with all parents and reached 95% of families. In addition to regular one-on-one touchpoints, Project CARE and its partners meet with English and Spanish-speaking families who might have questions every two weeks and launched a Facebook and Instagram weekly series for staff to provide self-care tips for families to practice at home.

Project CARE is supporting staff members with opportunities to participate in virtual circles and mindfulness activities. Staff join their colleagues for gratitude exercises, breathing techniques, and wellness check-ins. The Project CARE team provides both live and recorded mindfulness videos to staff members on a weekly basis and virtual hangout spaces monthly. Since the pandemic, 100% of staff members are taking part in these initiatives and claim to benefit from them.

Prior to the pandemic, Project CARE was pleased with the strength of its healing-centered education practices. Approximately 95% in both elementary and secondary campuses have received and continue to receive restorative practices with 100% of the staff trained in trauma-informed practices and racial equity. These practices allowed the campuses to significantly decrease their disciplinary referrals from 693 in the 2018-2019 school year to 112 referrals from August 2019 to March 2020.

About East Austin College Prep

East Austin College Prep is an innovative, tuition-free* public school open to Pre-K – 12th graders in Austin and surrounding areas. EAPrep is the realization of a long-standing dream to have a community school located right in the heart of the Govalle/Johnston Terrace neighborhood. EAPrep’s mission is to inspire students to have college aspirations along with the academic skills and work ethic necessary to succeed.
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East Austin College Prep- Promesa Public Schools
Aleah Ruiz

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