A preliminary plan that gives the framework for reopening the city's schools was released on Friday by Chicago Public Schools (CPS), the third-largest school district in the nation with 642 schools and 355,000 students, according to CPS.
CPS is seeing feedback from parents and the community over the next two weeks on the proposal, which includes a hybrid learning model that has most students learning from home and attending school a limited number of days a week, provided its safe to do so based on guidance from public health officials.
“Our dialogue will require that everyone’s voices are heard in order to arrive at the strongest possible plan for our students and school communities," Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in a press release. "Covid-19 has been unpredictable from the start, but whatever form this challenge takes, I want everyone to know that education and learning will be happening this fall.”
Here is how the hybrid learning model would work, according to the release:
- About 50% of the student population would attend school in-person on any given day.
- Most high school juniors and seniors will do at-home learning full time.
- Schools are encouraged to "safely bring in juniors and seniors who need additional academic or social and emotional support, or students who are engaged in specialty programming, such as Career and Technical Education (CTE) programming that can’t be accessed at home."
- There will be pods for approximately 15 students that will minimize exposure to others and help with contact tracing if a pod member contracts Covid-19. Student pods will be placed in rooms with assigned seating and will use the same designated spaces to maintain social distancing as much as possible during the day.
"Through a hybrid 2-1-2 scheduling model, each student pod will spend the same two consecutive days each week learning at school, the same two days learning independently at home, and each Wednesday they will participate in real-time virtual instruction with their classroom teacher," the model says.
Other safety measures: CPS also outlined daily increased screening and cleaning protocols, including face covering requirements, daily temperature checks and health screenings.
Cloth face coverings will be provided to all students and staff and disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer will be available in all classrooms and throughout school buildings. The district is also hiring approximately 400 additional custodians to bolster cleaning and disinfection protocols.
CPS says that the health and safety of the students and staff is a priority and that it has disinfected over 50,000 rooms and secured sanitation and health resources that are needed to safely reopen in September.
“Our framework is designed to maximize critical instructional time while prioritizing the health and safety of students and staff,” CPS Chief Education Officer, LaTanya D. McDade, said in the release. "As a next step, we are eager to hear and incorporate feedback from families to ensure we have the best possible plan in place to meet the needs of all students.”
Along with the online survey that solicits feedback on the plan, CPS will be holding meetings for parents in both English and Spanish to answer any questions regarding the preliminary framework.
Mayor Lightfoot said earlier this week that she plans on announcing the reopening plan in August.