CPS class cancellations continue into next week, as schools try to offer enrichment activities; next full day of regular classes could be Jan. 18 unless CPS-CTU reach agreement
by BRIAN NADIG
Classes at many public schools in Chicago are being canceled for Monday, Jan. 10, with additional cancellations expected for the rest of next week unless the Chicago Teachers Union and Chicago Public Schools can resolve their differences.
Many school principals have been scrambling to find ways to offer a limited amount of in-person enrichment or specialized services for some students based on staffing numbers. However, the school system reportedly is barring any teacher, including those who report for work to their schools, to teach remotely.
Some school administrators have said that they are hopeful the dispute will be resolved within the next couple of days but that they are planning for the possibility that a full schedule of classes will not resume until Tuesday, Jan. 18, which is two weeks after the union membership voted 73 percent in favor of transitioning to all remote learning due to the recent surge in COVID-19 cases.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot has said that the schools are safe and that the best learning scenario is for students to receive in-person instruction. The mayor has said that classes or in some instances entire schools could go remote on a temporary basis dependent on the number of COVID-19 cases but that having all schools go remote at once is unacceptable.
Alderman Samantha Nugent (39th) said that remote learning that the students endured in 2020 and 2021 was extremely difficult on families, leading to increases in “mental illness” among children. She said that parents tell her that they have to wait “months” to get an appointment with a therapist for their child.
“(Parents) overwhelmingly want their kids back in school,” Nugent said regarding the feedback her office has received. “It’s just too much for the kids. … These kids have to catch up academically.”
“I’m encouraging CPS to negotiate with CTU in good faith,” Nugent said.
Teachers who do not report to their school will not be paid, according to CPS, and these schools days reportedly are not expected to be made up.
High schools are allowed to resume sports and practices if coaches are available, but coaches who are also teachers must have reported to work earlier in the day, one school administrator said.
Taft High School will be open from 9 a.m. to noon Monday, Jan. 10, for enrichment activities, but only those students who receive an individualized invitation via e-mail can participate. Those activities will be for Academic Center seventh graders, English language learners, seniors for college planning sessions and students working on “success plans” with conflict resolution specialists.
Wildwood School posted on its Web site an optional independent work packet for students, while Edgebrook School reported that “meaningful” in-person enrichment activities would not be available on Monday due to staff shortages but that child care may be available for a limited number of students for parents who reserve ahead of time via a Google survey.
Sauganash School reports that about 20 staff members are expected to be at the school on Jan. 10, allowing for “some opportunity for in-person enrichment/supervision to take place for families.” In an e-mail, parents were asked to fill out a form if they want to take advantage of these services on Monday.
Beaubien School reports that learning packets for each grade can be downloaded or picked up at the school on Monday.
Oriole Park School also has learning packets. The school said that these packets are an optional resource and that students are not required to complete them.
One local parent reported that a teacher has given assignments to students via an app that CPS does not control.