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Chicago public schools to be fully remote this fall

Chicago public schools to be fully remote this fall
Chicago public schools to be fully remote this fall amid COVID-19 pandemic 02:41

Chicago Public Schools has ditched plans to have some students in classrooms to start the school year and announced a fully remote learning plan for the fall, CBS Chicago reports. This came as the state faced a slow but steady rise in new COVID-19 cases and the possibility of a strike vote by the Chicago Teachers Union next week.

Three weeks ago, CPS announced plans for a hybrid approach to the start of the school year, with most students in classrooms twice a week and learning from home three days a week. The district then sent out surveys to parents and held virtual town hall meetings last week to discuss the plan.

CPS Chief Executive Officer Janice K. Jackson said that based on feedback from parents, "It was evident that our families were not comfortable with the state of the pandemic, and the national response."

How school superintendents are preparing to reopen amid COVID-19 surge 04:39

According to CPS, only 28.1% of elementary school parents and 33.5% of high school parents said they planned to send their children to school if classrooms reopened in the fall, while 40.8% of elementary school parents and 37.8% of high school parents said they wouldn't. The rest were not sure.

The idea of returning to classrooms was especially unpopular among Black and Latinx families. 

Scott Gottlieb: "It's going to be hard to keep the virus out" of schools 06:17

The announcement to shelve the hybrid plan for the start of the school year comes less than a day after sources confirmed the Chicago Teachers Union was planning to hold a possible strike vote over the reopening plan as early as next week to pressure CPS into starting the school year with remote learning only. The union had repeatedly criticized the hybrid plan in recent weeks, and had said the only safe option for back to school was a fully remote model.

Lightfoot denied that pressure from the union tipped the scales on the decision for how to restart school in the fall.

"As we have now repeatedly said about every decision that we've made in the context of this pandemic, we have to be guided by the science, period," she said. "When we announced the potential for a hybrid model some weeks ago, we were in a very different place in the arc of the pandemic."

Chicago Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said Chicago is now averaging 277 new COVID-19 cases per day, compared to as low as 170 four to five weeks ago, and the average seven-day positive test rate has risen from 3.8% a month ago to 4.8% as of Tuesday.

CPS' decision gives district officials, teachers and staff a month to develop a more comprehensive plan for virtual learning than what was used in the spring.

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