Top Education Stories You Don’t Want to Miss: February 19 – February 25, 2022

Masks are staying in Chicago Public Schools, but some parents clamor for ‘COVID-19 off-ramp’; Catholic schools drop rule

By Tracy Swartz for The Chicago Tribune

“The mask mandate in Chicago Public Schools was the first order of business at Wednesday’s Board of Education meeting, which President Miguel del Valle opened by restating that masks are staying on in schools, despite the imminent end of the city’s requirement. “Yesterday, the Chicago Department of Public Health eliminated the mask mandate for the city of Chicago, effective Feb. 28. It’s great to see the metrics are going in the right direction,” he said. “However, on behalf of the board, I want to reiterate our commitment to masking at this time. While CPS’ numbers are also improving, we know our student vaccination rate is significantly below that of the city and varies greatly by community. So for the time being, we will continue to require masks of all students and employees.”


CPS Says Special Education Students Now Have Necessary Bus Transport, But Others Still Missing Out

By Matt Masterson for WTTW

“Nearly six months after classes began, Chicago Public Schools says it is now providing transportation service to hundreds more special education students who require it, though officials say there are still “many unserved students” who aren’t getting the busing they need. Last month, there were more than 700 special education students who had still not been routed onto a bus during the current academic year. But as of this week, each one of those children are now receiving their legally mandated transportation from the district. “We are now providing service to close to 10,000 diverse learners through our transportation department,”  CPS CEO Pedro Martinez said during Wednesday’s Board of Education meeting. “I know this has been a struggle with the national shortage on drivers, so I’m glad that we’re at this point.”


Chicago poised to end controversial school ratings system

By Mila Koumpilova for Chalkbeat

“Chicago will suspend its controversial school ratings for the third year and give itself more time to design a new campus accountability system. But the new approach likely will no longer involve a number or letter grade for each campus — a practice that educators, principals, and others have decried as reducing a school’s offerings and often complex challenges to a single designation. Officials said Wednesday that the district’s leadership transition over the summer and the singular focus on safely reopening schools this fall delayed a push to redesign Chicago’s school accountability model, known as School Quality Rating System, or SQRP. So the district is extending an April deadline to unveil a new policy until spring of 2023 at the latest.”


In Chicago, free college for 4,000 students and their parents: ‘This means so much’

By Mauricio Pena for Chalkbeat

“She had just found out that she, her classmates, — and their parents — would get their college education paid. In full. Tears streamed down her face as she searched for her parents in the auditorium. Before the life-changing news, the price of college had limited her educational prospects, said the 18-year-old daughter of Mexican immigrants. “Now, the possibilities are more open,” Vazquez said. “This is an opportunity I never thought I would get.” On Tuesday, Vazquez was among 1,700 students at the Lower West Side school to be awarded the first round of college scholarships for seniors, the school’s underclassmen, and their parents through Hope Chicago, an education nonprofit led by former Chicago Public Schools CEO Dr. Janice Jackson.”