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CHICAGO — Chicago Public Schools plans to bring back students for in-person learning beginning January 2021.

CPS plans to bring elementary school students back into the classroom on Feb. 1 and pre-school and special education students on Jan 11. Families of all students will have the option to continue with remote learning.

CPS said they plan to send out forms to parents later this month where families can opt in for in-person instruction.

The news comes on the same day as Gov. JB Pritzker announced plans to move Illinois back to Tier 3 mitigations.

The Chicago Teachers union has strongly opposed any and all in person instruction during the pandemic. Stacy Davis-Gates, vice president of the CTU said Tuesday this was “the worst day to announce something like this.” She called the move irresponsible.

We are dealing with everything being shut down in Illinois, we are on the precipice of another shelter-in-place order from the governor. Then the mayor of Chicago says let’s open our schools back up without any clear criteria, without any clear input from parents, students, educators, workers, this is a mess,” she said.

In the notice to families, CPS said schools will be prepared for students. The letter said “the public health in Chicago and across the nation show that schools are rarely a source of COVID-19 transmission. With this new understanding of COVID-19, we must challenge the assumption that school buildings must stay closed and do everything we can to bring students back to school”

CPS leaders say there will be health screenings, face coverings required and distance between desks. Schools will also provide access to COVID-19 tests. Also, classrooms will be outfitted with HEPA air purifiers.

However, CTU leaders said that’s not enough to keep everyone safe.

“It’s not about what we think, it’s what independent experts have already told us. That what they have done is insufficient for the type of safety that’s necessary in the middle of a pandemic,” Davis-Gates said.

While these plans are in place now, CPS president Dr. Janice Jackson also said they will be monitoring cases especially over the holidays. In order for schools to reopen next year, cases will need to stabilize.

For more information about the CPS reopening plan, visit their website.