Chicago scraps In-Person Learning, Opts for All-Remote Learning for Fall

Chicago Tribune reports after weeks of defending a proposal to reopen Chicago Public Schools this fall, Mayor Lori Lightfoot and schools CEO Janice Jackson announced Wednesday that the new school year will begin with remote learning instead.

But it will feel different than in the spring, when CPS was “cobbling things together,” Jackson said. Attendance will be mandatory, the district will revert to normal grading, and educators can go to schools and teach in real time from their classrooms, she said.

“There will be more of a traditional infrastructure that you see in a school setting; we’re going to stand that up in a remote setting,” she said. “ … Teachers have to be available throughout the entire day to educate students.”

Jackson said a final plan will be released Friday.

Officials said the decision to backtrack was based on public health guidelines and feedback from parents, and that the district will aim to move to a hybrid model, with schools open, in the second quarter, which begins Nov. 9.

“In a perfect world, students would be in classrooms more, not less. But, unfortunately, that is not where we find ourselves today,” Jackson said at a news conference announcing the district’s change of course.

Having touted their initial hybrid plan, which would have rotated students into buildings two days a week for in-person classes, CPS officials also said all along that they wouldn’t reopen schools unless it’s safe to do so.

Against a backdrop of rising COVID-19 cases in the city, through a series of virtual town halls last week and feedback from parents and students, it became clear families “were not comfortable with the state of the pandemic and the national response,” Jackson said.

The official announcement came the day after word got out that the Chicago Teachers Union was planning on calling its House of Delegates together to consider a possible strike vote because of the union’s skepticism that schools could reopen safely.

Lightfoot on Wednesday said pressure from the union did not influence the decision to go remote.