Dear Parents and Families,
Today is an important day for Chicago Public Schools (CPS). After nearly a year away from their classrooms, teachers, and friends, we are happy to announce that CPS students who want to learn in person will be returning to their schools.
Timeline for in-person learning
Nearly eight months ago, we began discussions with Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) leadership about how to safely reopen schools. We can now report that an agreement with CTU leadership has been reached that will allow students and staff to return on the following dates:
- Pre-K and Cluster Programs: Students and staff return on Thursday, February 11, 2021.
- Kindergarten - Fifth Grade: Teachers and staff return on February 22. Students return on March 1, 2021.
- Sixth - Eighth Grade: Teachers and staff return on March 1, 2021. Students return on March 8, 2021.
Prior to the start of the fourth quarter, families who chose to continue learning at home will be offered another opportunity to return to school. Non-cluster high school classes are not currently scheduled for in-person learning, and as part of our agreement CPS and CTU will form a joint task force to address safely reopening high schools.
Significant new areas of agreement between CPS and CTU
In addition to the offer we made to CTU leadership late last week, we have also agreed to expedite vaccinations for selected staff and establish a metric to determine if in-person learning should be paused district-wide at any point.
- Vaccinations. We are doing everything in our power to vaccinate educators as quickly as possible in an equitable manner. Through a partnership with Walgreens and the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH), 2,000 pre-k and cluster staff and staff without an accommodation but who have medically vulnerable household members will be offered vaccinations this week.
Through our own vaccination sites — which will open later this month and be available exclusively for CPS employees — we will be able to provide vaccination doses to 1,500 CPS employees per week out of the City’s limited supply. Staff who live or work in the city’s 15 most impacted and vulnerable communities may also be offered vaccinations through the city’s Protect Chicago Plus initiative.
- Metrics to Pause in-Person Learning: Under the agreement, the district will revert to online learning for at least 14 calendar days if the city’s COVID-19 test positivity rate (7-day rolling average) meets the following criteria:
- Rate increases for 7 consecutive days;
- Rate for each of the 7 consecutive days is at least 15% higher than the rate one week prior; and
- Citywide positivity rate on the seventh day is 10% or greater.
CPS will resume in-person learning after 14 days or when positivity rate no longer meets all of the criteria above.
Returning to school
The district has invested more than $100 million on safety measures including face coverings, hand sanitizer, HEPA air purifiers, and additional cleaning supplies, along with comprehensive plans for contact tracing and surveillance testing, and our schools are ready to welcome back our students and staff.
Here are some important reminders as you prepare for this return:
- Complete the Daily Health Screener. To ensure students and staff are not sick, a health screener must be completed every morning prior to arrival at school. Families can access the screener at cps.edu/HealthScreener, or they can contact their school and ask to opt into text notifications so that a link to a personalized health screener is sent daily to their mobile phones.
- Prepare Children for Health and Safety Protocols. Schools will look different when students return. To help prepare them, we encourage you to talk to your children about new aspects of their daily routines. These include temperature checks, social distancing, good hand hygiene, and face coverings. Watch these videos for ideas on how to have these conversations with your children.
Now that an agreement has been reached, we are focused on providing all students with a high-quality education, and keeping all those who are returning to school buildings healthy and safe. We know this has been a deeply challenging time for everyone in our school community, and we are thankful that we have reached an agreement that benefits students, addresses the needs of staff, and offers families certainty about their child’s education.
We are fully committed to coming together to provide all children with the high-quality education they deserve. Thank you for your tremendous patience throughout this process and look forward to supporting your children academically, socially, and emotionally as our school year continues.
Janice K. Jackson, EdD
LaTanya D. McDade