Chicago Public Schools discuss reopening plan at virtual town hall Monday

42% of meeting participants said they were not comfortable at all with CPS's proposed plan

BySarah Schulte and Jesse Kirsch WLS logo
Thursday, August 27, 2020
Chicago Public Schools discuss reopening plan at virtual town hall Monday
Parents are add their input on the Chicago Public Schools plan for resuming classes in September.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago Public Schools leaders could decide to rework part of the plan for reopening schools in the fall.

The school district held the first in a series of virtual meetings Monday, seeking community input on its preliminary school reopening proposal.

Parents, like Rebecca Weinberg, had the opportunity to ask questions at the first of five CPS virtual meetings where the district's top officials went into more detail about the evolving plan. Many of the parents and teachers who tuned in expressed concerns about the effectiveness and safety of the current CPS plan.

"Like every parent in Chicago, I'm full of questions of what the fall is going to look like," she said.

Weinberg's 8-year-old son Fred has been busy trying to keep himself entertained this summer as he prepares for the school year to begin at New Field Elementary in West Rogers Park, where he will start 3rd grade.

"We have to learn how to do school with COVID because COVID will be with us for a long time," CPS CEO Janice Jackson.

A mid-session poll showed more than half of those tuning in are uncomfortable with the current proposal, with 42% answering "not comfortable at all."

Some of the questions focused on how to give high school juniors and seniors options for in-person learning.

RELATED: CPS, mayor release hybrid learning framework for possible Chicago school reopenings in fall

Depending on your age and grade, the plan involves in-person instruction, remote learning, or both.

The Chicago Teachers Union says any in-person learning would be unsafe.

RELATED: Pediatricians give parents back-to-school advice to keep students safe from COVID-19 this fall

As school districts release their fall plans, some doctors are weighing in on whether it's safe for students, teachers and school employees to return.

Students who opt into attending in-person classes will have different experiences based on their age and needs, officials say. The majority of grade levels will split time between virtual and classroom learning; however, under the original plan, all juniors and seniors will have remote learning for the fall semester.

Some of the chat comments expressed seniors' disappointment with that plan, while others voiced concerns -like multiple siblings sharing digital devices.

Another point of concern is what would happen if someone tests positive for the coronavirus, even in the pod system that is designed to encourage social distancing.

Jackson promised, above all, health comes first. She also suggested that some high schools may be able to bring back upperclassmen, but it would be on a case by case basis.

"We are looking at schools where there may be enough capacity to bring students back so stay tuned on that," Jackson said.

CPS leaders stressed they've collected feedback from various stakeholder groups and have made changes since the abrupt shift to remote learning in spring. Some of those changes include better attendance and engagement oversight plans.

"We are moving all district schools to the google education platform to capture student engagement," CPS Chief Education Officer LaTanya McDade said.

While Weinberg said she appreciates the district's time and effort in creating the plan, she feels the plan is overly optimistic.

"I don't think CPS has spent enough time on educating their teachers how to teach remotely preparing for that inevitably," she said, adding that she feels more comfortable keeping Fred at home this fall.

The district's preliminary plan was unveiled before the Chicago Public School Board last week, which was met with a caravan protest from CTU.

A final decision is expected next month.

CPS will hold four more virtual meetings this week, including two in Spanish. Parents have until Friday to fill out a survey on the back to school plan. For more information, visit