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CPS Board Approves Starting 2021-2022 School Year A Week Early, Discusses Alternatives To School Resource Officer Program

CHICAGO (CBS) -- The Chicago Public Schools Board of Education on Wednesday approved a plan to start the 2021-2022 school year about a week early.

The school year will start on Aug. 30 instead of Sept. 7, with 178 full attendance days, 10 professional development days, two parent-teacher conference days, eight paid staff holidays, and 10 paid vacation days for teachers and staff. The last day of the school year will be June 14.

The calendar does not change the number of daily student instructional minutes required.

Chicago Public Schools moved fully to remote learning at the start of the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020, during the 2019-2020 school year. All-remote learning continued for much of the 2020-2021 school year, with pre-K and cluster students, and then kindergarten through eighth grade students, returning to school over the winter.

CPS has announced a plan for high school students to return for in-person learning in some fashion on April 19.

Meanwhile, the CPS board also discussed the school resource officer program. Particularly amid protests last year about police violence following the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, the subject of Chicago Police officers in schools was a major topic of discussion.

As of August 2020, Local School Councils at 55 schools decided to keep the school resource officer program, while 17 removed it.

The board also noted that last fall, new eligibility and selection criteria were implemented for school resource officers, and a rule was enacted so that principals would play a greater role in selecting them. The Civilian Office of Police Accountability will also now have a special unit dealing with complaints about school resource officers.

But per a 2020 resolution, the CPS board is seeking alternatives to the school resource officer program. This has involved setting up a steering committee for whole-school safety recommendations that will focus on implementing restorative practices, increasing access to social-emotional learning and metal health resources, and ensuring school environments are safe and welcoming.

Afterward, each school will create a school-level safety planning team that includes parents and students to develop a school safety plan. Schools will form and launch whole-school safety committees beginning early next month, with votes by Local School Councils on whole-school safety plans coming in June.

Schools will be allowed to go with the alternative plan or keep school resource officers.

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