Chicago Public Schools

Here's How CPS' Reopening Plan Compares To Other School Districts Nationwide

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The battle continued Thursday between Chicago Public Schools and the teachers union over plans to reopen for in-person learning.

Both sides have not been able to agree on several issues, including a plan for vaccines, a plan for a "phased-in" reopening approach, accommodations for high risk teachers and a standard metric for positivity rate in the district.

Parents with students in pre-k and cluster programs who opted to return to in-person learning earlier this month were told to switch back to remote this week while the union works to reach an agreement.

Students in kindergarten through eighth grades are scheduled to return to school Monday for hybrid learning, which includes two days learning in person, two days learning at home independently and one day of real-time virtual classroom instruction with the teacher.

“We will get the back to school. We just have to take more time to properly plan for that,” CPS parent Delia Calvillo said.

Some CPS parents, like Calvillo, said they have no confidence in the district’s reopening plan.  

“I felt like I did not have enough information in order to feel safe and send them back, so that's why I opted for not returning them,” she said.

Other parents, like Nolberto Casas, are pushing back and believe it’s safe for kids to return to the classroom.

“There are no voices in our community that are standing up for every day people that want their children to go in person,” Casas said.

CPS reopened schools to some students in the pre-k and cluster programs on Jan. 11. Students were back in the classroom for about three weeks, but had to switch back to remote learning on Wednesday because of the showdown between CPS and CTU.

“We’re already about 320 days of no in-person instruction and they're at another impasse and the only people that lose are our children,” said Casas.

NBC 5 looked at reopening plans for several school district across the country.

Some school districts in other cities, like in Houston, have already been back in the classroom since October. The Houston Independent School District has just under 200,000 students.

The Houston district said 56% of students are learning virtual and 44% are learning in person, with parents able to reconsider their learning option every quarter.

“Every classroom has been evaluated to determine the maximum number of students and staff who can be in the room while maintaining safe ventilation standards,” School District of Philadelphia Superintendent William Hite said.

Hite’s district is taking a phased-in approach and will transition students to hybrid learning. The district is preparing to welcome pre-k to second grade students back on Feb. 22. for two days learning in person and three days learning remotely.

The district surveyed parents to gauge their response to the reopening plan. The district said 9,000 parents selected the hybrid learning model for their child.

The New York City Department of Education welcomed the return of kindergarten through fifth grade students for in-person learning in December. The district said it will conduct mandatory COVID testing at school weekly, though students in grades six to twelve remain remote until further notice.

The Los Angeles Unified School District has not reopened for in-person learning citing safety concerns.

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