CPS proposes earlier fall start date to make up for Chicago COVID-19 disruption

CPS CEO Janice Jackson said district wants HS students to return in-person this school year
CHICAGO (WLS) -- As Chicago Public Schools students slowly trickle back into school buildings, the district is already making plans for the fall, or rather, summer.

For first time in years, CPS is considering starting school before Labor Day.

"After a pandemic, getting our kids back to school as soon as possible is something that is important for us, but I always thought it was a great opportunity to address the concern around why CPS schools start so late," CPS CEO Dr. Janice Jackson said.

Jackson said the district is looking for parent and staff feedback before the board votes on an August 30 start date.

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While some CPS elementary students were able to return to in-person learning this week, high school students and parents wonder if and when they'll be able to do the same.

In the meantime, while K-4th graders return for a hybrid schedule this week, Jackson said it remains a challenge convincing many parents to send their children back.

"We've seen this throughout the country when school opens, you end up with about 25-30% who opt-in first, but as confidence grows over time, those numbers tick up," Jackson said.

CPS parent Sabrina Jackson is keeping her 3rd grader home.

"I did not let him go back into the building and my reason behind that is, I felt the schools were not up to par yet for me," she explained.

For now, Jackson's elementary school age son will stay home with his high school age brother. Janice Jackson said negotiations over a high school return plan are going well with the Chicago Teacher's Union.

While the district works on getting kids back into school buildings, Jackson said CPS is working on a plan to re-enroll students who have fallen off the grid.

According to CPS attendance data obtained through an ABC 7 Freedom of Information Act request, average attendance dropped by 10,000 students from September to January.

"Some schools have been hit hard related to that, so we are going to be providing extra support to reengage and re-enroll those students," Jackson said.

Jackson said re-enrolling students and addressing learning loss will be part of a big CPS plan to be announced in the coming weeks.
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