Chicago Public Schools students and staff must continue wearing masks inside facilities and practice social distancing where possible when in-person learning resumes next month.
Those mandates were among the health and safety protocols the school district announced in an email to staff and parents Thursday.
“Our goal is to keep all students healthy and safe while they learn in-person five days a week with their teachers and peers so they can receive the education and supports they need and deserve,” interim CPS CEO Jose Torres said in an email. “Based on widespread scientific consensus, we know that proven strategies like the ones announced today will keep students healthy, safe and supported.”
The Chicago Teachers Union has repeatedly called on CPS to provide more vaccination programs for students and improve air safety and sanitation inside school buildings to protect against the spread of COVID-19.
Masks or cloth face coverings must be worn by everyone, regardless of vaccination status, inside school buildings throughout the day unless they are eating or drinking. Some students will also eat breakfast and lunch in their classrooms, while others will eat in their regular cafeteria.
Face coverings can be removed for outdoor activities like recess or sports.
BACK-TO-SCHOOL HEALTH & SAFETY: We’ve developed protocols with @ChiPublicHealth for our 8/30 return to daily, in-person learning:
Masks will be worn by all in schools
Social distancing of 3 ft
Daily meals will be eaten by some in the classroom, by others in the cafeteria. pic.twitter.com/hEdqbA8yJu
— Chicago Public Schools (@ChiPubSchools) July 22, 2021
The district also said it will attempt to maintain 3 feet of social distancing “wherever possible” indoors.
“We know that there will be times when this is not possible due to the population of schools and classrooms,” Torres said, “and will use additional health and safety strategies, including air purifiers, hand sanitizer, cleaning and disinfecting, contact tracing, and cloth face-coverings to maximize safety for students and staff.”
CPS offered in-person learning to students in all grade levels by the end of the previous school year. But previous CPS CEO Janice Jackson, and now Torres, have made it a goal to bring all students back into classrooms this fall, unless they have medical exemptions.
“We look forward to welcoming students back on Monday, August 30,” Torres said, “and will continue to provide you with updates as guidelines for the new school year are finalized.”
Note: This story was originally published July 22, 2021. It has been updated to include our “Chicago Tonight” discussion.