CHICAGO — Facing fierce opposition from teachers for a quick return to in-person schooling, Chicago Public Schools leaders plan to announce the district will start the school year with an all-remote learning schedule, according to multiple reports.
CPS previously was supporting an opt-in, hybrid model for the coming school year, which officials said would help mitigate the spread of coronavirus while ensuring children were getting critical in-person instruction and school services, like nutritious meals.
But as coronavirus cases continue to rise in Chicago, teachers pushed back against the proposal, saying any type of in-person instruction was not safe for students, teachers and staff. The Chicago Teachers Union reportedly planned to convene a meeting of its delegates next week to consider a strike vote.
Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady on Tuesday said she supported a return to in-class learning if it could be done safely. But by Tuesday evening, multiple reports indicated district leaders backed off the hybrid plan and made the decision to go all remote. WTTW first reported the news.
As early as Friday, CPS officials told parents they have until Aug. 7 to choose whether they will send students to school under the blended model of at-home and in-person learning, or opt to keep kids entirely at home for remote learning.
District officials said they needed time to plan based on how many families choose all-remote learning.
“The district’s approach for delivering full-time home-based learning will be tailored to the number of families who choose this option,” CPS CEO Janice Jackson and Chief Education Officer LaTanya McDade said in the email.
Under the hybrid model, most students would learn at home for two consecutive days, be at school for two consecutive days and have one day of real-time virtual classes with their teacher.
Students from kindergarten through their sophomore year of high school would learn under the hybrid model, but juniors and seniors would learn completely at home under CPS’ plan. Some students, like preschoolers and those with special needs, would be in class full-time.
But parents said there wasn’t enough information or time to make an informed decision for their families.
The teachers union pushed for CPS to open only for remote learning this fall. Members staged a car caravan and rally at City Hall in protest of CPS’ plan Monday morning.
“School districts from Los Angeles to Atlanta have moved to remote learning only this fall, while the mayor continues to back her ‘hybrid’ plan for in-person learning,” union leaders said in a statement.
“But that plan fails to adequately lay out how chronically under-resourced school communities will have what we need to open safely this fall, from adequate PPE, effective social distancing strategies and safe HVAC systems to temperature checks, rapid-response virus testing, contact tracing and health professionals in every school building.”
CPS serves 355,000 students in more than 600 schools, according to the district.
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