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Chicago Public Schools will start the new school year remotely. This news comes only days after CPS released a survey asking parents whether they were willing to send their kids back to school. However, the decision is not a spur of the moment. Teachers and parents voiced their concerns about resuming in-person classes, even if it was only for two days.
Furthermore, the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) threatened to strike if the district decided to hold in-person classes. CPS said that the proposed strike weighed less compared to the number of parents who did not want to send their children back to school. Ultimately, the conclusion decision is for Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office to make.
Another factor in this decision was public health data. Chicago is far better off compared to places such as Florida. Still, the daily case rate is 273 and continues to rise. If schools were to reopen, it might cause a spike in cases. Lightfoot and CPS stated they are following the science. Moreover, parents were not willing to send their students back to school. As a result, the district had no other reason to continue with the hybrid method.
The City Health Commissioner’s Response
Chicago’s Public Health Commissioner, Dr. Allison Arwady, made a statement Tuesday night. She stated that schools should reopen if safe to do so. She voiced her belief in students going back to school with social distancing measures and masks. However, she also admitted there is a cause for concern.
Arwady stated that the rise of Covid-19 cases could lead to spikes in asymptomatic cases. Due to this information, CPS made the decision not to continue with the hybrid plan. Officials stated that the decision might only last until the end of the first quarter. After the first quarter, CPS administrators will discuss the possible adoption of the hybrid school plan.
Considering the criticism surrounding the first announcement of the hybrid method, one should be a bit doubtful. This decision came abruptly as a result of the backlash from parents and teachers. Unless some stark change occurs, like the availability of a vaccine. CPS will likely face the same criticism following the first quarter.
The Original Plan
On Aug. 3, 2020, parents received an email asking families to decide whether or not their students would attend in-person classes or learn at home. The results of this model would allow CPS officials to create an action plan. The following day, rumors about a potential teacher strike broke out. Only a few minutes after Chicago Public Schools began re-examining the hybrid method. Now, on August 5, CPS has officially announced it will not use the hybrid model.
Some students felt left out of the hybrid model. The model allowed Kindergarten-10th grade students to attend school. The model left juniors and seniors to learn at home, as CPS felt these grade levels had busier schedules. Coupled with the risk of exposure to Covid-19 — parents had little faith in the model.
An Ineffective Model
This model also neglected teachers’ health. Though the number of students in a class would be limited, the stress of managing in-person class and online class could lead to teachers being overworked. Not to mention, they would still have to be near students, which could lead to exposure to Covid-19. To reduce concerns, CPS instated mandatory cleaning and temperature checks. Still, teachers, parents, and students felt learning in person was a risky move, that should be reserved for better conditions.
As much as officials would like children to attend school this fall, it will not happen. Hopefully, following first-quarter conditions will improve and allow for the safe resumption of in-person classes. If not, learning at home may have to continue until a better learning method comes along.
Written by Reginae Echols
Edited by Cathy Milne-Ware
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Featured Images Courtesy of Matt Turner’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inline Images Courtesy of sydneyewing1’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License