The Archdiocese of Chicago Catholic Schools responded Wednesday to Chicago Public Schools' announcement of moving to remote learning this fall, saying they intend to keep students in school as the coronavirus pandemic continues.
In a letter to parents, the Archdiocese said they strongly believe that their reopening plan, which allows for students to return to full-time in-person learning, is in the best interests of children and their mission.
"In-person learning is essential for the intellectual, emotional, physical and spiritual growth of our students," the letter read. "Our reopening plan maximizes the safety of our students and employees while allowing the resumption of in-person learning."
The Archdiocese said they plan to offer both five-day, in-person learning as well as remote e-learning for those unable or whose parents are unwilling to return to classrooms.
The Archdiocese of Chicago announced its plan to reopen schools in the fall in June.
The plan includes measures like mandatory face masks for students over the age of 2, student "cohorts" and temperature checks.
“We live in extraordinary times and it is our intent to reopen our school buildings safely to all families this fall,” Dr. Jim Rigg, superintendent of the Archdiocese of Chicago Catholic Schools, said in a statement. “Such a reopening has required careful and diligent planning on the part of our school employees, along with consultation from medical professionals, state and local officials, educators, parents, and others. We believe that in-person instruction is the best way to benefit our students and are committed to providing that instruction in a safe manner.”
The reopening plan features the following restrictions and changes:
- All students over the age of 2 and school employees will be required to wear masks while indoors. Masks may only be removed during designated activities (such as lunch and recess) and only then if students remain physically distant.
- Students will be assigned to a “cohort”, which will correspond to their homeroom class and will remain with those same classmates throughout the day. Students within a cohort will remain physically as far apart as possible to prevent the spread of illness.
- Schools will provide new pick-up and drop-off procedures, walking routes within the buildings and other measures to limit the physical interaction of students.
- Parents will be asked to take their children’s temperatures daily. Temperature checks will also occur as students enter the school building every day.
- Schools will adhere to infection protocols, requiring any student who presents symptoms of COVID-19 and/or tests positive for the virus to quarantine and seek medical attention before returning to class.
- Finally, families who are not ready for their children to return to classrooms will still have the option for online learning.
CPS announced Wednesday that students will begin the school year in the fall with fully remote learning as the coronavirus pandemic continues.
CPS CEO Janice Jackson and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot made the announcement at a news conference Wednesday morning, hours after reports surfaced the night before that the district would be moving away from its previously announced framework that called for a hybrid model.
“The decision to begin the 2020-2021 CPS school year remotely during the first quarter is rooted in public health data and the invaluable feedback we've received from parents and families,” Lightfoot said in a statement announcing the decision.