Back to school: CPS releases final Fall 2020 framework for all-remote learning; CTU says 'it's not enough'

ByEric Horng and Jesse Kirsch, ABC7 Chicago Digital Team WLS logo
Wednesday, August 19, 2020
CPS releases final reopening plan for all-remote learning; CTU says 'it's not enough'
Chicago Public Schools released their Fall 2020 final reopening framework but CTU is pushing back, saying the plan does not go far enough.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago Public Schools released its final reopening plan for the fall and says its confident the plan will meet students and families' needs.

On August 8, officials announced CPS will not reopen for in-person instruction this fall.

The framework includes new information on the structure and expectations for that remote learning, building upon preliminary framework released in July.

Read the Chicago Public Schools Final Reopening Framework

CPS said the school day will be six hours long for all grades except for pre-K and students will get a combination of real-time and online learning activities.

Teachers will be required to be available for students during the entire school day, CPS said.

Teachers are also encouraged to incorporate small group instruction and peer-to-peer interaction into their remote learning plans.

The district has set time requirements for both real-time learning and learning activities, ranging from 60 minutes and 90 minutes respectively for pre-K students to 80% and 20% of the day respectively for high school students.

Chicago Public Schools released their Fall 2020 final reopening framework Friday.

The breakdown of the scheduled learning times are:

Pre-K: 60 minutes real-time instruction, 90 minutes learning activities

K-2: 180 minutes real-time instruction, 180 minutes learning activities

3-5: 205 minutes real-time instruction, 155 minutes learning activities

6-8: 230 minutes real-time instruction, 130 minutes learning activities

9-12: 80 percent of the day real time instruction, 20 percent of the day learning activities

The district said some teachers will use Google education tools, which CPS can accurately track and support engagement.

Teachers and students will also be expected to log on daily for a homeroom-style check-in, CPS said. Daily attendance will be taken, and the district will return to its standard grading practices. Assignments will be graded and students will receive letter grades.

However, the Chicago Teachers Union is objecting the plan, saying it ignores several proposals from teachers, including a week of orientation for students and their caregivers.

"It lacks flexibility for working families. It lacks the type of engagement that we're going to need to pull this off effectively," said Chicago Teachers Union Vice President Stacy Davis Gates.

The district said it will also offer additional mental health services and support, and provide ESL and special education instruction tailored to those students' needs, including individual check-ins.

"You're going to have five-year-olds who've never been in a school setting before expected to be on a Zoom, excuse me, a Google camera with their parents. How does that work? How do you coach parents through that? What are some of the best practices? What happens when the kid walks away," Gates said.

Chicago Public Schools said they will distribute an additional 36,000 devices to students in need in a continued effort to bridge the city's digital divide, and additionally contact schools to determine how many more devices need to be purchased in order to meet students' needs. The district is also partnering with nearly three dozen community organizations to connect about 100,000 CPS students and their households with free high-speed internet.

The union has said they believe the need for all-remote learning would be inevitable, and pushed for that decision earlier to give CPS and teachers more time to prepare.

The Chicago Teachers Union held a car caravan rally Monday as they continued their call for remote learning only this fall.

On Tuesday afternoon, CTU said they filed "the first in a series of grievances against CPS for issuing remote learning guidance that fails to provide our school communities with the instructional tools necessary to deliver proper instruction in a remote context required by the labor contract."

The union released a statement about the district's final framework, saying in part: "The mayor and CPS made this plan without imagination or input from teachers. They have unveiled a remote learning plan to fit into the mold of in-person school, but have failed to take advantage of the ways that online learning can be made more accessible and engaging. In fact, they refuse to partner on an agreement that reflects lessons learned from last spring and best practices for remote learning. We feel like that there should be innovation specific to remote learning that works for a wider swath of educators and families. We've accepted that this is a pandemic, and we've adapted accordingly to serve our school communities. We're not sure CPS has done the same. There is a lot of infrastructure to build, and they've been reluctant to build that infrastructure with our union."

CTU said they're demanding CPS provide teachers and students with "the infrastructure necessary to conduct remote learning," more professional development time for training, and more time to collaborate with parents, caregivers and students on remote learning best practices. They said all their proposals to CPS for the remote learning plan were rejected.

Chicago Public Schools said it is continuing to evaluate moving into a hybrid remote and in-person learning model for the second quarter. No decisions have yet been made and will not be made without input from public health officials, as well as parent and community feedback.

CPS classes are scheduled to begin September 8 with the hope to be at least partially back in the classroom by November.

District officials say those who need additional assistance to prepare for remote learning can call the CPS family hotline at (773) 417-1060 or email

The decision to start the school year remotely could help as Illinois tries to slow the spread of new COVID-19 cases, health officials say.