With the state of Illinois unveiling new guidelines that could allow students to return to classrooms this fall, Chicago Public Schools says that it will work to develop its own rules and regulations to allow children to return to schools safely.
The new guidelines, which were released as part of the state’s plan to move into Phase Four of the “Restore Illinois” program amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, specify that each district will be required to come up with their own rules for the return to class, with each district deciding what policies are best for its students.
In Chicago, officials say they are gathering feedback from parents, teachers and other staff to figure out the best path toward welcoming students back to the classroom later this year.
“Chicago Public Schools is eager to open its doors to students as soon as its safe to do so, and the district is gathering feedback from families to inform draft reopening guidelines for our schools,” CPS said in a statement. “Nothing is more important than the safety of our students, staff and families, and we remain committed to widespread engagement to ensure our plan for reopening supports the diverse needs of our entire school community.”
Chicago Teachers Union President Jesse Sharkey criticized the guidelines laid out by the state, calling them too "vague."
“From rural communities to huge cities like Chicago, the guidance is just too vague in general,” Sharkey said.
One of the concerns brought up by Sharkey is the mask requirement, which states that students ages 5 and older will be required to wear face coverings.
“Enforcing mask wearing for younger students (will be tough),” he said. “I don’t know the last time you tried to put a mask on a six-year-old, but it’s not easy.”
Under the guidelines, students will be limited to gatherings of fewer than 50 individuals, and all students age five or older will be required to wear facial coverings.
Extra sanitation procedures will be put in place, and if the state sees a surge in new coronavirus cases, in-person learning may be suspended and replaced with virtual learning, as it was earlier this year.