East St. Louis High School Uniform Requirements Are Eased And Clear Backpacks Required.

EAST ST. LOUIS - Beginning in School Year 2022-2023, high school students at East St. Louis School District 189 will not be required to wear a school uniform, as they have for a number of years. Rather, students in grades 9-12 must simply abide by a dress code that continues to align with the district’s board policy and current guidance from the Illinois Principals Association.

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“The dress code will allow students more flexibility,” noted Superintendent Arthur R. Culver. “In the past, high school students were required to wear a polo shirt in a specific color, indicating their grade band.”

The change is occurring based on feedback received from students, parents, and the community requesting more flexibility. “Students have been advocating for greater uniform flexibility for some time,” said Sydney Stigge-Kaufman, Executive Director of Communications. In particular, members of the Superintendent’s Student Advisory Council have shared insights and challenges regarding the uniform requirement directly with the Superintendent. For many families, it was difficult to find and purchase the right color polo shirt. Students wished for the opportunity to wear school spirit wear, rather than their assigned color for four years.

District administration conferred with school staff and analyzed student discipline and attendance data before making the change. Superintendent Arthur R. Culver stated, “We anticipate the dress code flexibility will lead to an increase in student attendance at school and a decrease in minor school behavior referrals that centered around student attire.” District staff believe the change will lead to other positive outcomes as well, such as improved school climate and increased student morale. The Board of Education approved the dress code change at their July 19th board meeting.

Students must continue to conform to a dress code that meets standard expectations across all high schools in Illinois. For example, student dress may not display alcoholic beverages, illegal drugs, violent behavior, vulgar language, gang symbols, or other inappropriate images. The dress code, modeled after the gold standard from the Illinois Principals Association, notes in part the following:

“Students are prohibited from wearing clothing or attire that is contrary to acceptable health and safety standards, or may disrupt the education process or learning atmosphere. Students whose dress causes a substantial disruption of the orderly process of school functions or endangers the health or safety of the student, other students, staff or others may be subject to discipline.

Students are expected to wear clothing in a neat, clean, and well fitting manner while on school property and/or in attendance at school sponsored activities. Students are to use discretion in their dress and are not permitted to wear apparel that causes a substantial disruption in the school environment.”

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The district believes the shift from a uniform requirement to a dress code will be well received among high school students. Stigge-Kaufman said, “We are confident that high school students will respond well to the greater flexibility, as it allows them to express their personality, while still adhering to the dress code expectations.”

Superintendent Culver added, “We will monitor and can make adjustments to the dress code, if needed.” District administration reserves the right to make changes to uniform expectations if these changes or other events disrupt the educational experience or impact student safety.

Parents and students who would like to review the full School Dress Code can view details in Section 6.20 of the Student Handbook: https://www.estl189.com/domain/101

Preschool through grade 8 students within the East St. Louis School District will continue to have the standard school uniform as before, which includes: Navy blue, khaki or black slacks, skirts, jumpers or shorts; white, black, navy blue or powder blue shirts; and closed-toe shoes with a backing (any color).

Clear Backpacks Now Required at Secondary Schools

In an effort to support school safety, students at East St. Louis Sr. High School, Mason/Clark Middle School, Lincoln Middle School and Bush Alternative Center should only use clear backpacks beginning in the new school year. Backpacks are not required, but if students at these schools wish to utilize one, it must be clear. The backpack plastic must be completely transparent, but the straps to carry them do not have to meet this requirement.

“The safety of our students and staff is our highest priority,” noted Arthur R. Culver, Superintendent of the East St. Louis School District. “Requiring clear backpacks is one action we are taking that will expedite the entry of students into schools in the morning and minimize the risk of weapons and other prohibited items entering our buildings.”

Students are allowed to carry a non-clear pouch or purse no larger than 5.5 inches by 8.5 inches to hold personal items, such as hygiene products or cellphones.

Traditional, colored backpacks are still allowed at the preschool and elementary levels as well as at the Younge School of Excellence.

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