Chicago Public Schools and Lightfoot administration sources tell WTTW News that CPS will announce an all-remote learning plan for the fall, reversing plans for a hybrid model of at-home and in-person learning.
The official announcement could come as soon as Wednesday. Sources say the decision was based on rising COVID-19 positivity rates and feedback from parents, teachers and administrators during an engagement process that took place after CPS unveiled its hybrid plan last month.
The news comes amid reports that the Chicago Teachers Union had planned to call for a meeting of its House of Delegates early next week, potentially to vote on authorizing a strike prompted by concerns over returning to classrooms during the pandemic, though some members have expressed no appetite for another strike — the second in a year.
At a rally Monday, the CTU warned the district that its plans for a hybrid model are not safe. “You cannot go to the beach in the city of Chicago. You cannot drink indoors in the city of Chicago. But they’re going to send hundreds of thousands of students into school buildings, hundreds to a building,” said CTU President Jesse Sharkey.
“I’m grateful that they came to see the light, because I was concerned that was not the direction it was going to go in,” said Ald. Andre Vasquez (40th Ward).
Ald. Jason Ervin (28th Ward) said it’s important that Chicago children all have the same opportunities to access their schoolwork. “In some communities, when we talk about remote learning, we need devices, we need internet connectivity. Having remote learning without those things is not going to produce the type of success that other communities have,” Ervin said.
Tuesday on “Chicago Tonight,” Ervin and Vasquez also weighed in on the U.S. Census Bureau confirming reports that it’s ending its count for the 2020 census on Sept. 30, a full month earlier than originally planned. The move prompted four past directors of the Census Bureau to warn that many parts of the U.S. will not be accurately counted.
Video: Chicago aldermen react to the shortened census schedule.
“You have neighborhoods in Illinois where 80% or 90% of the population has responded to the census already, and so the federal government just needs to do a little bit more work to get the remaining 10%,” said demographer Rob Paral of Rob Paral and Associates. “But then you’ve got all kinds of neighborhoods where only 30% or 40% or 50% of people have responded, and so you need to do a lot more work to reach people, convince them that it’s safe to respond, and bring them up to 100%.”
Ervin said Chicago leaders need more time — and more information.
“We do not know who has filled it out and who hasn’t. We’ve asked the Census Bureau (to) let us know the addresses of people that have filled it out so we can direct resources to those addresses that have not filled it out, and they told us no,” Ervin said. “It’s like if you ask somebody are they registered to vote. They’re going to tell you yes, they’re registered to vote, just like they’ll tell you, ‘Oh yeah, I filled out my census form.’”
Vasquez agreed that the delay will hurt the massive count, especially among Chicagoans in communities that have historically been underserved. “In the areas where we’re not up to the same (response) level, it is where there’s undocumented folks, it’s where there’s people who haven’t had access to support and need it the most. We need that time … so that we have the resources and funding that’s necessary going forward,” he said.