Chicago Public Schools

Parents, Students Have Mixed Emotions as CPS Set to Begin Return to In-Person Learning Thursday

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In-person learning will resume tomorrow in cluster learning and pre-K Chicago Public Schools classrooms, and parents and teachers are dealing with mixed emotions.

Suzanne Lucio, who has children in both pre-K and in fifth grade, says that she is excited, and her kids are as well.

“He’s very excited,” she said of her 4-year-old son. “We’re making sure we have everything prepared. We’re making sure our masks are clean and ready to go.”

Thursday will mark the first time that CPS school children will be back in classrooms since January, when the Chicago Teachers Union voted to move all classes back to remote-learning. After several weeks and dozens of negotiating sessions, the two sides reached an agreement this week to phase students back into classrooms.

For Lucio and her family, the back-and-forth was difficult to cope with, but she’s hopeful that this time it will stick.

“We already went back to school and left,” she said. “I don’t want to go back again and then come home for e-learning.”

Under the new proposal, students in kindergarten through fifth grade will return to class on March 1, while upper grade students will go back March 8.

Provisions in the agreement will allow for schools to revert back to e-learning if cases spike in buildings, and the entire district can revert back to e-learning if metrics are exceeded, according to CPS officials.

With uncertainty over what the coronavirus pandemic will throw at the region next, Karyn Bui, a parent of an 11-year-old CPS student, says that she is a bit nervous about this week’s developments.

“I haven’t told her she’s going back to school just yet,” she said. “Every day she’s like ‘mommy, can I delete Google Classroom?’”

Students in those grades haven’t been in the classroom since last spring, when the coronavirus pandemic shut down all CPS schools and forced them to transition to e-learning. The changes, including mask wearing and limited class sizes, are on the minds of many parents.

“We did prep her, because when she goes back to school it will not be like it was before,” Bui said. “You will have to wear masks and keep distance.”

Some questions still undoubtedly remain for parents, including those who opted not to have their children return to classrooms right away. Those parents will have another opportunity to opt into in-person learning in the fourth quarter, according to CPS officials.

As for high school kids, plans are being worked out for their return, but no official return date has been set by the district at this time.

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