With Chicago Public Schools using fully remote learning, some parents look at alternatives such as Catholic schools, tutoring

CHICAGO (WLS) -- After Chicago Public Schools announced they would be starting the year fully remote, some parents, looking to Catholic schools, private tutors and even pandemic pods.

Chicago Catholic Schools are planning for all in-person learning this fall. They say they have a safe plan in place.

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Virgie Berry is a pre-school teacher in the city. She has been gathering small groups of children outdoors over the summer.

"It's kind of funny how fast word spreads," Berry said. "When you're doing tutoring. I have had random people each out to me via Facebook via neighborhood groups just asking like what are your plans for the school year?"

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Laura Reber with Chicago Home Tutor has been getting lots of phone calls about these kids of learning "pods" and offers them herself.

"This learning pod, the pandemic pod thing has become and overnight sort of phenomenon as far as people trying to find neighbors or friends to be able to create little learning pods with and split the teacher that way," Reber said.

With CPS switching to a fully remote leaning plan this fall, some parents who want in-person instruction for their children are scrambling to figure out solutions.

"Most of the parents who are reaching out are reaching out about younger students I would say probably up to like 2nd, 3rd grade," Reber said. "I think the older students are a little more able to manage remote learning."

While learning pods with masks and social distancing are popular solutions, Chicago Catholic schools are offering in-class instruction or a remote option, depending on what parents are comfortable with. Diocese officials say their in-person learning plan was designed with guidance from the CDC and the Chicago Department of Public Health with small class groups, temperature checks and social distancing all part of the framework.

"We have a convergence of opinion from a number of expert sources that we're meeting the criteria and that's really what it is," said Justin Lombardo with the Archdiocese of Chicago.

The Archdiocese of Chicago says it's fielding more calls than usual, from interested parents. But officials there say they will not overload any school, which would create an unsafe situation.
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