Top Education Stories You Don’t Want to Miss: August 28 – September 3, 2021

Free Lunches for All Noble Students

By the Noble Network of Charter Schools

“Students, forget about waiting in that long cafeteria line to swipe your ID and get your food. Parents and guardians, don’t worry anymore about filling out that form to get your student on free or reduced lunch. Because starting this school year, all Noble Schools students from day one can get free breakfast, lunch and dinner at school every day. No application or ID necessary. This is all part of a federal assistance program that Noble was accepted to called Community Eligibility Provisions (CEP). “There’s no stigma associated with your food status, there’s no IDs, there’s no long lines.” This is what Monica Karis, Noble’s Director of Dining Services, says about the CEP program. For five years, she’s been hustling with her team to get Noble accepted to the CEP program. Finally, in December of 2020, Noble was accepted.”


How The Way We Create Our Curricula is Changing #ReadytoReturn

By the Noble Network of Charter Schools

“The way Noble Schools creates curriculum standards with teams of Noble teachers and staff members is evolving. The Academics Team at Noble has been working hard to improve these teams, formerly known as Hedgehog, and the way they’re formed. Now, they are known as the Innovation Collective. We heard from the Academics Team about this change was necessary and what staff, students and their families can expect from the Innovation Collective as we head back to school this year.”


COVID-19 outbreaks reported at 26 Illinois schools, weeks after start of new school year

By Karen Ann Cullotta for The Chicago Tribune

“More than two dozen Illinois schools are reporting COVID-19 outbreaks, weeks after students returned to the classroom for in-person learning at fully reopened schools. The Illinois Department of Public Health on Tuesday listed 26 Illinois schools with COVID-19 outbreaks, including several in the suburban Chicago areas of Cook, Lake, Kane and Will counties. While a few schools reporting outbreaks have been put on probation by the state for flouting Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s school mask mandate, most of the recent outbreaks are at school districts that are complying with the executive order, including Glenbrook Elementary School in Streamwood, which reported between 11 and 16 related cases of COVID-19. Other suburban Chicago schools reporting COVID-19 outbreaks this week include Oak Park-River Forest High School, Maine East High School, East Aurora School District 131, Highland Elementary School in Skokie, Woodland Elementary School in Grayslake, Kaneland John Shields Elementary School in Elburn, and Nelson Ridge Elementary School in New Lenox.”

As quarantine notices go out, Chicago needs more time to fully expand school COVID testing

By Cassie Walker Burke and Mila Koumpilova for Chalkbeat

“Four days into the full-time reopening of classrooms and amid criticism from teachers and parents over scant information on COVID-19 testing, Chicago Public Schools on Thursday said it needs two more weeks to expand its voluntary testing program to every school. The district had pledged the program would be in place during the first week of the school year. Weekly tests will be offered to all students and employees by Sept. 15 regardless of vaccination status, officials said on Thursday, adding that more information would be forthcoming about the program. The district has also promised to make free tests available to students and employees with COVID symptoms or known exposure. The update came as the city’s teachers union sharpened its public fault-finding with the district’s safety measures and as schools began sending quarantine notices home to families. Exactly how many classrooms had students under quarantine was not immediately clear on Thursday.”

School bus driver shortage in Chicago prompts $1,000 payments to families and calls to Uber, Lyft

By Cassie Walker Burke for Chalkbeat

“Chicago is giving stranded families $1,000 to cover transportation for the first two weeks of school and reaching out to ride-sharing companies Uber and Lyft after a bus driver crunch left about 2,100 students without a ride on the first day of school. “This is an all-hands-on-deck moment,” said Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Monday at an otherwise celebratory back-to-school event in which officials heralded the full-time reopening of schools after more than 500 days of remote and hybrid learning. Even as Chicago sent messages all weekend reassuring families of its plans for a safe reopening amid a surge in COVID-19 cases, administrators were scrambling behind the scenes to reconfigure bus routes and notify about 2,100 students that they would not receive bus service on the first day. The district said that the combination of a national driver shortage and a flurry of late resignations among bus drivers caused the gap in services.”


Chicago Public Schools identifies 100K students who may not be showing up for class

By Chuck Goudie and Barb Markoff, Christine Tressel, Ross Weidner and Jonathan Fagg for WLS

“If public education is considered an investment in our future, then Chicago has a serious problem with the rate of return. New data obtained by the ABC7 I-Team reveals about 30% of Chicago public school students are at risk of not taking part in classes during the 2021-2022 school year. “We identified students based on their attendance, truancy, grades, discipline. And so, we identified specific indicators and weighed them and identified who was at risk, who was at high risk of not re-engaging,” said Interim CEO of Chicago Public Schools Dr. Jose Torres. “Not re-engaging” is CPS-talk for playing hooky, the old-school term for students who are habitually absent, AWOL from classes, or just don’t show up for school. According to new data obtained by the I-Team after a public records request, CPS has identified 100,274 students as “considered to be in need of interventions or outreach in order to facilitate their full engagement for the upcoming school year.” In other words, 100,274 students are likely to regularly skip class or be late – about a third of the entire district.”