Chicago Public Schools students will return to classes virtually on April 13, but just how long the e-learning plan will continue remains unclear.
Despite reports that students may not return to class through the end of the school year, rumors which Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot called "not accurate," CPS officials acknowledged uncertainty surrounding when students will return to school.
"Obviously what happens with the schools being physically open is determined at the state level not the local level," Lightfoot said.
But CPS CEO Janice Jackson said preparations are underway to ensure learning will continue if closures extend longer than currently planned.
“What’s important for our families to know is that we have a plan. COVID is unpredictable. Things have changed rapidly. There’s no doubt that there is a need to ensure there is a plan in place," Jackson said Monday. "I hope we don’t have to use a plan longer than what we anticipate, but our families need to know that we have plans in place should that occur.”
The news came just after the city and its public school district announced that e-learning would begin on April 13 and that the district was deploying thousands of new devices to help comply with new guidance from the state’s Board of Education.
The district has already extended its closure through April 20, beyond the statewide closures of April 7, with classes scheduled to resume April 21.
According to new guidance from the Illinois State Board of Education, school districts are required to convert future days of suspended in-person instruction to “remote learning days."
CPS plans to deploy more than 100,000 devices to its highest-need students, according to a press release.
"COVID will end, we're certain of that, and we want to make sure we recoup any learning loss that's happened because of that," Jackson said.
Illinois' stay-at-home order is set to end one week from Tuesday, but it remains unclear if the governor extend that deadline even further as cases and deaths across the state spike.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker's press secretary said Sunday the governor "can only do disaster proclamations 30 days at a time."
"I think he's mentioned that he'll follow the experts on extending them," Jordan Abudayyeh said.
Lightfoot hinted that such a decision could be coming, stating Friday the order could be extended until late April as health officials continue to work to contain the coronavirus and lessen its impact.
When asked about the stay-at-home order during a teleconference with reporters, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said, " I think that realistically we’re looking at something’s that’s going to stretch deep into April."
However, the mayor stated she doesn't want to get ahead of Pritzker and said his team is examining "similar data" when it comes to a possible extension of the statewide order.
Pritzker said "every day" his team is looking at a possible extension.
"When are we extending if we do stay at home, keeping kids at home?" Gov. Pritzker said. "We'll be reporting to you, but for now April 7 is when our executive order extends to."
Illinois saw its biggest one-day jump in coronavirus cases since the pandemic began Sunday, with 1,105 new cases confirmed on Sunday.
A total of 4,596 coronavirus cases have now been confirmed statewide in 47 counties.
In addition, 18 more deaths have been reported in connection to the virus, bringing the state's total number of coronavirus-related fatalities to 65.