As elementary schools welcome back the final group of students for in-person learning, Chicago Public Schools is now reaching out to high school families to gauge their interest in returning to classrooms this year.
Beginning Monday, high school families can opt in to in-person learning, according to CPS CEO Janice Jackson, even though the district has not yet reached an agreement with the Chicago Teachers Union on how to safely reopen high schools.
While negotiations over reopening elementary schools nearly led to a teachers strike last month, Jackson said she feels “really good” about the district’s initial talks with the union this time.
“I think we learned a lot about what to do and what not to do in that first go-around,” Jackson said Monday morning outside Richardson Middle School. “Some of the things that are really encouraging is that both CTU and Chicago Public Schools have an interest in seeing our high schoolers get back this year.”
The latest round of negotiations between CPS and the CTU began last week.
Jackson has said getting high school students back into in-person learning is the district’s “top priority.” CPS officials believe the elementary school reopening deal will serve as a framework for the high school plan, though issues remain over student schedules and what exactly a high school learning model will look like.
Welcome back, grades 6 - 8!
Thousands of students across the district returned to schools today, including Richardson Middle School. pic.twitter.com/gmxI3FABAC
— Chicago Public Schools (@ChiPubSchools) March 8, 2021
CPS on Monday also welcomed back the third and final cohort of elementary school students: those in sixth through eighth grades.
The district expected around 18,000 students in those grades to resume in-person learning Monday, though it’s not yet clear how many actually did return to their schools. Last week, K-5 students returned to schools, which followed preschool and special education cluster program students who resumed in-person learning earlier this year.
Still, the majority of CPS students will continue learning remotely.
“We’re super excited about the fact that at this point, all elementary grade students that want an option for in-person (learning) now have an option for in-person instruction, which is really good,” Jackson said.