Dear CPS Families,
Earlier this month, we announced that all Chicago Public Schools (CPS) students will begin the coming school year learning at home. Throughout our response to COVID-19, our top priority has been, and will continue to be, keeping our students and school communities safe. Today, we are sharing our Final Reopening Framework for the start of the 2020–21 school year. This framework gives CPS the flexibility to begin the school year learning at home and transition to hybrid learning once our public health experts determine it is safe to do so.
Mirroring a Normal School Day at Home
When students start school on September 8, their day-to-day experience will look very different than it did during remote learning last spring. We are using the insight we gained last year to provide our educators with new resources, tools, and expectations to ensure students continue to receive a high-quality education.
Families should expect an experience that mirrors what students would normally experience at school. Teachers will take attendance daily, use Google Suite tools to post work and host live instruction, and be available during school hours to provide students with feedback, support, and host parent conferences as needed. This will help teachers better understand individual student learning and provide support in a timely manner.
Students in kindergarten through grade 12 will engage in live, real-time instruction with their teachers for at least three hours per day, with high school students participating in live instruction for 80 percent of the school day. The remainder of the school day will be made up of independent learning and small group activities with other students through Google Education Suite. These changes will help provide critical structure in an age-appropriate manner and keep children engaged for the entirety of each school day. Expect to receive details of your child’s schedule in the coming weeks.
Implementing Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) and 504 Plans
CPS will continue to ensure that our diverse learners make progress on their IEP goals and the general education curriculum. IEP teams will determine how to meet the individual needs of students with disabilities from home in a safe, supportive manner. Educators and related service providers will provide live, real-time instruction as well as individual check-ins and independent learning activities.
Providing Real-time Instruction for English Learners
Bilingual education teachers will continue collaborating with classroom teachers to deliver instruction that meets the language needs of our English learners (ELs). In order to support students’ language development, ELs will receive live, real-time instruction and independent learning activities this fall.
Educating the Whole Child
We know children may experience a combination of stress, fear, and anxiety as the school year approaches, and easing these feelings and building supportive learning environments will be critical to their success this coming school year. This year, we will offer additional mental health interventions and supports, introduce grief curriculum, expand small group trauma interventions, and provide virtual classroom-based activities for managing stress and anxiety. We will continue to be intentional about prioritizing social-emotional learning and sharing mental health resources with students and families throughout the year. Parents can contact their school social worker or counselor to request more information about these services or resources.
Expanding Equitable Access to Technology and High-Speed Internet
To ensure every CPS student will have a high-quality digital experience learning at home this fall, CPS will provide 36,000 computing devices to children who still need one––in addition to the 128,000 devices distributed last spring. And through Chicago Connected, more than 100,000 families from limited-income backgrounds will be able to get high-speed internet at no cost. Families can check their eligibility and access their activation code by simply entering their child’s student ID number and birthdate into our eligibility tool at Chicago Connected. You can find your child’s student ID on their report or progress report. If you need assistance, please call your child’s school.
In the coming days, we will be releasing additional resources for parents and students that will help our families prepare for learning at home during this first quarter. We will also begin introducing new virtual training sessions through our Parent Universities to help our families transition to online learning in addition to the courses available on the Office of Family and Community Engagement’s Youtube channel.
We thank you for your continued patience and engagement and look forward to providing your children with the high-quality education they deserve while keeping everyone healthy and safe.