Top Education Stories You Don’t Want to Miss: February 5 – February 11, 2022

“They’re here. They wanna be here.” — Noble’s Return to School Amid the Omicron Surge

By The Noble Schools

“While the Omicron variant raged through Chicago and across the world this past holiday season, Noble teams went to work to ensure students could return to school safely and continue learning in January. Starting this week, Noble Schools is now back on a full-day schedule at all our campuses after passing the peak of the Omicron surge here in Chicago and seeing a major decrease in cases across our schools. This comes after many of our campuses spent the first few weeks of school this new year either fully remote in an “operative pause” because of a high number of cases at their campus or in a partial-day schedule to avoid time spent maskless during lunch.”

Gov. J.B. Pritzker will lift indoor mask mandate on Feb. 28, but rules will remain in place for schools

By Dan Petrella, Clare Spaulding, and Joe Mahr for The Tribune

“Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker will lift the state’s indoor mask mandate for most public places on Feb. 28 if the state’s largest coronavirus surge continues to subside, as Democratic governors across the country begin loosening rules in response to improving data and an increasingly pandemic-weary public. Pritzker is not dropping masking rules for schools, however, as his administration seeks to overturn last week’s court ruling that called into question his legal authority for mandating face coverings, quarantines, and, for school staff, vaccinations or testing.”

A Note From Our CEO: Update on Our COVID Policies

By The Noble Schools

“Noble Family,  I hope you are staying safe and warm. Last week, there was a court decision from a county in central Illinois about COVID-19 safety measures in schools across the state. This caused some confusion, especially around whether mask mandates in schools would be prohibited. Noble is not a party in these lawsuits, and therefore the judge’s order does not apply to Noble. As such, the mask mandate, close contact tracing, and vaccinate-or-test requirements will remain in effect at Noble. We are confident our COVID mitigation strategies, including wearing 3-ply surgical, KN95 or similar masks, will provide safe spaces in our buildings. These mitigations will continue to stay in place for now, but we will continue to monitor the science and hope–if conditions warrant–to follow the statewide and nationwide trend of relaxing some requirements in the coming weeks.”

First the school buses didn’t show for many CPS students. Now it’s the transportation reimbursements checks for their put-out parents.

By Tracy Swartz for The Chicago Tribune

“Bronson Stamper was looking forward to taking the bus to the Chicago’s Whitney Young Academic Center in the fall. The seventh grader waited at her Hyde Park bus stop for the first three days of school, her mother said, but the bus didn’t arrive. So Bronson’s parents have been driving her to Whitney Young from their home in the Washington Park neighborhood. To make matters worse, Stamper said she has received only a portion of the money Chicago Public Schools promised to give families without bus service or those who have been affected by longer route times. When the nationwide bus driver shortage became a crisis for the district when the school year began in late August, officials offered parents $1,000 for the first two weeks and $500 a month thereafter. Stamper said she collected a $1,000 check from Whitney Young in October, but no other money since then. Other parents told the Tribune they have been reimbursed some, but not all of the money they are owed, and they have not heard from CPS about when their checks will arrive. In a statement, a CPS spokesperson said the district has provided financial support to more than 3,600 students who have experienced transportation issues this school year. Checks are supposed to be sent the second week of the month to cover the prior month, after a student’s attendance is verified. By many measures, the CPS bus system has been a fiasco this year. Hundreds of diverse learners whose individualized education plans require transportation, as well as other CPS students, have not had service because there are not enough bus drivers, a problem that has grown worse during the COVID-19 pandemic.”