CPS targeting April 19 in-person start date for high school students; CTU rebuffs

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CHICAGO – Chicago Public Schools is aiming for an April 19 in-person start date for high school students.

In a letter sent to parents, the district said they have been meeting with CTU leaders as part of a joint task-force to establish a plan for high school students to return to classrooms.

“Following the successful reopening of our elementary schools as well as new guidance from the Biden Administration that supports bringing students back to classrooms, we know we can safely resume in-person high school instruction as long as the right plan is in place,” CPS said.

The district said talks with CTU have been productive and outlined April 19, the first day of the fourth quarter, as the target date for students to return to classrooms.

Additionally, CPS said they believe all families must have an option for in-person or remote and a hybrid learning model is being discussed for in-person instruction at least two days per week.

At the beginning of the year, CTU and CPS had to work through many negotiations to begin the phased-return of elementary and pre-k students.

The district encourages families who are interested in learning more to participate in our high school town hall Wednesday, March 17, at 5 p.m. Register at bit.ly/HStownhall2 in advance.

In a press release Tuesday night, CTU blasted the district and said, “we have no agreement on returning to in-person learning in high schools on any date, nor will there be an agreement until we know our school buildings can reopen safely.”

Read the entire letter sent to families below.

Dear CPS Families and Staff,

For the past two weeks, CPS leadership and high school principals have been meeting with Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) officials as part of a joint task force to establish a plan that will allow high school students and staff to safely return to schools this year. Following the successful reopening of our elementary schools as well as new guidance from the Biden Administration that supports bringing students back to classrooms, we know we can safely resume in-person high school instruction as long as the right plan is in place.

We are pleased to report that discussions with CTU have been productive and we want to provide you an update on several concepts the parties have discussed: 

·  Start Date: April 19, the first day of the fourth quarter, is our target date for students to return to classrooms.

·  Eligibility: We believe that all families must have an option for in-person learning, and a return to high school classrooms must be available to all students. To the extent possible, we want to ensure students will remain with their assigned teachers upon returning to in-person learning

·  Hybrid Learning Model: Similar to elementary schools, instructional models will vary between schools due to difference in enrollment and capacity for social distancing throughout the district. CPS and CTU are discussing a hybrid structure that would provide in-person instruction at least two days per week for nearly all interested students.

Providing high school students the option to safely return on April 19 is a top priority for the district, and we will continue meeting regularly with CTU representatives as we strive to reach a consensus that provides the smoothest possible transition for our families and staff.  Negotiations are ongoing with CTU and we will continue to provide updates to families as discussions proceed.

We strongly encourage all families who are interested in learning more to participate in our high school townhall tomorrow, Wednesday, March 17, at 5 p.m. Please register at bit.ly/HStownhall2 in advance. And if you have not yet completed your intent form, which was sent directly to all CPS parents and guardians who have contact information on file, please respond as soon as your decision is made so we can plan accordingly. We encourage all families who are considering in-person learning to opt-in so they can maintain the ability to return this year.

Sincerely,

Janice K. Jackson, EdD         LaTanya D. McDade
Chief Executive Officer          Chief Education Officer
Chicago Public Schools         Chicago Public Schools 

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