CPS Board met virtually to discuss status of schools amid pandemic

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CHICAGO — Chicago Public School board members teleconferenced from home, giving an update on the closure of schools and where things stand with preparing students and teachers for e-learning.

March 17 was the last day of school for students, and right now Mayor Lori Lightfoot said school will be cancelled until April 21. All federal and state mandated tests pushed back until next year.

The school board did authorize $75 million to support digital learning, emergency personnel as well as the ongoing meal program.

The board hopes to receive funding from the U.S. Department of Education to help replenish those funds. They believe 30 billion dollars is being earmarked in the federal stimulus package.

Since the closure, board members say one million meals have been distributed to students.

CEO Dr. Janice Jackson said they are in the process of surveying all families for need and lack of access to internet service, laptops or both.

Jackson said teachers are in the process of being trained on new e-learning platforms, and could also use programs like Google Meet to interact with students.

So far, students have been given take home packets with worksheets, but the district is hoping to get a computer into the hands of as many students who need them as possible.

“We know the need is greater than what our current supply which is why the authorization is critically important,” Jackson said. “We are working with suppliers there is a backlog everyone is purchasing these types of devices in order to continue education so we’re getting in line as quickly as possible.”

The Chicago Teachers Union is also calling for immediate housing for all students in temporary living situations, and also wants staffing ramped up once schools do re-open for nurses and counselors.

If the school closure continues past April 21 in Chicago, the board will hold another virtual board meeting the following day on April 22.

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