For many students in Chicago, their first day back to school will be through a computer screen. The CPS district announced that they will back out of plans to have students in class at least twice a week and instead will go fully remotely for the foreseeable future.
The revision of the Chicago Public Schools proposal was done under the pressure of teachers and parents over health concerns for children to attend a crowded school during the pandemic. This decision took place only four days after CPS sent out a questionnaire or parents on whether they would allow their children to come back to school physically.
The announcement of this switch was made by Chicago Public Schools CEO Janice Jackson and Mayor Lori Lightfoot. At a news conference on Wednesday morning August 5, 2020, both women confirmed surfacing reports on how CPS will no longer follow the hybrid education model.
During the conference, Lightfoot explained how important the feedback from parents was in making this decision.
“As we build out this remote learning model and seek to establish a hybrid learning model in the second quarter, we will continue to support and collaborate with parents and school leaders to create safe, sustainable learning environments for our students,” concluded Lightfoot.
Over the past months, Chicago Public Schools officials and teachers have butted heads on the logistics of having students and teachers return to school — especially as COVID cases begin to reach higher peaks.
Before CPS’s announcement to go fully virtual, teachers apart of the Chicago Teachers Union had a strike in order to get their point across about the threat COVID could pose to children’s health should the go back to school. This week CTU leaders escalated public attacks against the mayor, calling for classes to be held at home for everyone’s safety.
So CPS revision in their plans not only prevent potential COVID cases but also avoided a long battle with CTU. President of the CTU, Jesse Sharkey, described the strike as “a win for” teachers, students and parents. But Sharkey expressed sadness over the fact that “we have to strike or threaten to strike to be heard, but when we fight we win!”
CPS’s initial plan involved students to have two-day in-person lessons in groups of 15 to reduce exposure. The plan specified that pre-K programs would regularly learn at school while kindergarten through 10th graders would go along with the hybrid model.
The hybrid model of learning is done by many colleges in Illinois. University will have mandatory safety rules put in place including face masks, social distancing, and frequent health monitoring.
On Sept. 8, 2020, Chicago students return to school — online.
Written by Brielle R. Buford
Edited by Cathy Milne-Ware
Chicago Sun-Times: Chicago Public Schools will go fully remote to start the fall
Chicago Sun-Times: Single rooms, meals to go, required COVID-19 testing: Illinois colleges plan students’ return to campus
NBC News: Chicago Public Schools to Begin School Year With Full Remote Learning
ABC News: Chicago Public Schools to start school year with remote learning, Mayor Lightfoot, CPS announce
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