Chicago Public Schools

CPS Announces In-Person Learning Start Date For High Schools

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High school students and faculty across the city can return for in-person learning next month, Chicago Public Schools announced Tuesday, as teachers continue to receive COVID-19 vaccinations.

On April 19, the first day of CPS' fourth quarter, those in ninth through 12th grades can return for classroom instruction, though teaching models will vary with each school, officials announced.

"Providing high school students the option to safely return on April 19 is a top priority for the district, and we will continue meeting regularly with [Chicago Teachers Union] representatives as we strive to reach a consensus that provides the smoothest possible transition for our families and staff," CPS said in a release.

CPS said negotiations with the teachers union remain ongoing, but that the return of high school students was based on a discussion with the joint task force created to ensure a safe return for students amid the coronavirus pandemic.

High school students still have the chance to opt-in for classroom instruction with the form previously sent to all CPS families, the district said. Officials encouraged parents and students to submit their decisions as soon as possible.

For those interested in in-person learning but wanting to hear more information, CPS will hold a virtual town hall meeting tomorrow at 5 p.m. To register, click here.

CTU issued a statement Tuesday in response to the district's email to families saying the union has not agreed to a start date to resume in-person learning.

"Let me be clear: We have no agreement on returning to in-person learning in high schools on any date, nor will there be an agreement until we know our school buildings can reopen safely," CTU said in a statement.

Thousands of students in kindergarten through eighth grades have already returned to classrooms under the district's phased plan to resume in-person learning.

Pre-K and cluster program students and teachers have also returned after CPS and the CTU reached a deal to reopen schools after weeks of acrimonious negotiations over safety protocols and vaccinations.

The agreement between CTU and CPS also includes metrics to return to all remote learning if the pandemic worsens. The district will move to online learning for at least 14 calendar days if the city's rolling 7-day average test positivity rate: increases for seven consecutive days, is at least 15% higher each of those days than the rate one week prior and if the rate is 10% or higher on the 7th day.

Students will also be required to complete health screenings each day, according to the district. The screening must be filled out by parents before the school day begins or by students when they arrive at school, and students must have a temperature at or below 100.4 degrees to be allowed to enter school.

Any student with a fever or any COVID symptoms, such as cough, sore throat, shortness of breath or a lack of taste or smell, will be sent home.  

Disinfectant wipes, hand sanitizer and sneeze guards are all installed in schools for usage by students and teachers, with HEPA air filters also installed to circulate and clean air in classrooms.

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