Chicago Public Schools

Chicago Public School Students Back in Class as Virtual Learning Begins

Parents and kids are adjusting to a "new normal" as classes begin

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Summer is over and kids are heading back to Chicago Public Schools, but in the 2020/21 school year, students will learn virtually, as living rooms and dining room tables are being transformed into classrooms.

"With it being the first day, we anticipate some kinks, but so far so good," said Stephen Mitchell, a CPS parent.

The Mitchell household is brimming with virtual learners. Stephen and Ethan attend Bronzeville Classical Elementary. Their mom is a teacher at another CPS school. There are computers in the kitchen, living room and home office.

"He’ll get up and come tell me, 'hey we got our spelling words!' I’m like, 'hey, Ethan, get back to class,'" said Mitchell.

Focusing at home will be the family's biggest challenge. Mitchell is currently working remote and also supervising his boys while his wife teaches.

"I feel fortunate to have the flexibility to be able to be here with them, but at the same time, that takes away from me being able to do my work," said Mitchell.

CPS encourages parents to set a routine and create conducive learning centers at home with few distractions and good lighting to help with the transition into remote learning.

In Norwood Park, the Curtin family has transformed their basement into a miniature classroom, complete with a table and chairs, a wall calendar and printed schedule.

"It’s actually going very well. I was shocked. I didn’t have high hopes. I was very nervous," said Leslee Curtin.

Curtin's two girls are in kindergarten and 2nd grade at John W. Garvy Elementary. She starts the morning by packing lunches, to make the day feel as "normal" as possible.

"I think the biggest thing we’ve taken from all this is you just have to be flexible and have an open mind," said Curtin.

The first day wasn't without hiccups. Jennipher Adkins wasn't able to get her daughter logged in to class.

"I’m hoping they don’t mark her absent today ," said Adkins, laughing.

Adkins' son had no trouble.

"It really pains me, but I am disappointed. I really wanted it to be better because we went through this last spring," said Adkins.

To accommodate parents, CPS has set up two family support hotlines. For general support: (773) 553-KIDS. For technical support: (773) 417-1060.

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