Chicago Public Schools officials said Wednesday the district plans to welcome high school students back to classrooms this spring for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic reached the city.
During a school board meeting Wednesday, district officials said discussions with the Chicago Teachers Union will begin over the best practices for reopening classrooms amid COVID-19.
"We know that many high school students and families are eager to learn more about their return to in-person instruction, and it is our goal to provide them with a safe, in-person option this school year," CPS Chief Executive Officer Janice Jackson said in a virtual school board meeting.
Jackson said she formally reached out to CTU last week to begin the process of returning high school students back to the classroom and expect to meet later this week. CPS officials said a joint task force is being created with the union.
Officials also announced the opening of three new high school learning hub locations in March:
- Richards Career Academy High School (60 students)
- George H. Corliss High School (60 students)
- William H. Wells Community Academy High School (50 students)
According to CPS, community-based organizations will staff and manage the learning hubs. Officials added that only students enrolled at the three high schools will be eligible to enroll in the hubs.
During the meeting, the Chicago Board of Education is set to vote on a new policy that would allow CPS to require employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine in the future and require staff to disclose their vaccination status.
It would also allow the district to require employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine in the future, which a CPS spokesman said the district does not have "immediate plans to implement" as a requirement.
CPS began offering vaccinations to teachers and staff weeks ago under the agreement reached with the union to return to in-person learning. That deal included CPS offering vaccinations to 2,000 pre-K and cluster program staff members - those asked to return to classrooms first in the staggered schedule - as well as staff with medically vulnerable household members who were not given accommodations to continue working remotely.
The new proposal to potentially require CPS employees to be vaccinated or disclose their vaccination status comes days before kindergarten through 5th grade students are scheduled to return to classrooms on March 1. Staff for grades 6 through 8 are slated to return that same day, with students in those grades scheduled to come back on March 8.