Mayor Lori Lightfoot and CPS CEO Dr. Janice Jackson visited the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Academy of Social Justice in Englewood Tuesday to kick off the start of the unusual school year.
Chicago Public Schools' students will start the school year fully remote but attendance will be taken every day.
Students have been supplied with devices and CPS is providing free internet or affordable internet plans for families.
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"We're committed to making sure learning at home feels as normal as any other school experience, assignments will be graded, attendance will be taken and students should expect to be held to the same high standards as they would be otherwise," Jackson said.
From a desk, a couch or bedroom, kids are figuring it out and making do.
"They prefer to be in school, but that wasn't an option, so everybody picked their spot, grabbed their laptop and off they went," said CPS parent Brenda Delgado Als.
Her three children all go to separate schools. Following some technical hiccups with devices in the morning, by lunchtime, the Als household was back on track..
"Two of the laptops were going to slow, one wasn't charging," said Delgado Als.
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.
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.
CPS has also provided a map of grab-and go meals sites around Chicago. Most sites are open Monday-Friday 8 a.m.- 1 p.m and families may pick up three days worth of meals for every child in their household. ID is not necessary.
CPS Grab-and-Go Meal Sites Map
Jackson said the district is ready for the first day.
"We are not going to take our foot off the gas," said Jackson. "The goal is to make sure that this is successful year despite the challenges, we face in remote learning."
However, not everyone agrees.
The Chicago Teachers Union said it's concerned about what they called a lack of PPE for clerks who are required to do their jobs in the building and the cleanliness of schools.
"We are receiving pictures and reports from members as they are going into the building. People are even reporting foods and stains things left in their chairs from spring," William-Hayes said.
While the union does not think CPS is prepared yet, they have said the district has started putting things in place to get prepared.
"My biggest fears are the technology," said CPS teacher Nina Hike. " If the internet goes out I'm really concerned about that."
Despite the concerns teachers and parents have over the unusual school year, both share the same optimism that comes at the beginning of every school year.
The district plans to re-evaluate the COVID-19 situation later this fall to determine if a transition to a hybrid model is possible for the second quarter.