Chicago schools change course, announce remote learning for fall

The teachers union president hailed the decision as “a win for teachers, students and parents.”
John F. Eberhart Elementary School in Chicago Lawn, a Chicago community on the Southwest Side
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/ Source: TODAY
By Ashley Capoot

Chicago officials announced Wednesday that public school students will follow a full-time remote learning model for the first quarter of the upcoming school year.

Remote learning will continue through at least Nov. 6, and officials will evaluate whether hybrid or in-person forms of instruction can resume after that.

At a press conference with Chicago Public Schools Chief Executive Officer Janice Jackson, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said the decision stemmed from input from families and public health guidance. On Wednesday, health officials in Illinois reported more than 1,700 new cases of coronavirus and 30 additional deaths due to COVID-19.

“Nothing about this crisis has been easy,” Lightfoot said. “Parents and families deserve peace of mind, and it is our responsibility to do everything that we can to deliver that.”

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Chicago Public Schools will continue its meal distribution program and provide devices to students who need them. Eligible families also can sign up for access to free high-speed internet through the Chicago Connected program.

The school district previously had announced plans for a hybrid instruction model where students would spend two days a week learning at school, two days learning independently at home and one day learning via real-time virtual instruction with their classroom teachers.

The Chicago Teachers Union opposed the hybrid learning model because of health and safety concerns, and it was planning to convene its House of Delegates next week to address the issue — a move that could have led to a vote to authorize a strike.

Union President Jesse Sharkey tweeted that the decision to opt for remote learning is “a win for teachers, students and parents.”

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Lightfoot said that even though the start of the school year will look different, Chicago Public Schools will work hard to meet students' needs.

“Our commitment to giving our students the most engaging and nurturing learning environment has not wavered, and will not,” Lightfoot said.

For more on the reopening of the American education system, watch “Pandemic: Back to School” anchored by Craig Melvin every Monday through Labor Day at 11 a.m. ET on MSNBC. Viewers can submit their own questions via Twitter with #MSNBCAnswers or sent to talk@msnbc.com.

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