Top Education Stories You Don’t Want to Miss: July 11 – July 17, 2020

Chicago’s Largest Charter School Network Is Planning For A Fall Of Virtual Classes

By Adriana Cardona-Maguigad for WBEZ

“Chicago’s largest charter school network serving more than 12,000 students says it’s preparing for remote learning as its primary form of instruction this fall. “While we are eager to resume in-person instruction, we will continue to prioritize the health and safety of our students, families and staff,” David Brown, spokesman for the Noble Network of Charter Schools, said in a statement Thursday. “Our plan for reopening will allow for learning to continue seamlessly, especially if we must provide full remote learning as we did in March.”

To reopen school buildings or not? Illinois school districts start to release fall plans

By Sneha Dey and Samantha Smylie for Chalkbeat

“School districts across Illinois are developing plans to reopen school buildings after the state Board of Education gave the green light last month to do so amid the coronavirus pandemic. Educators, policymakers, and families are all waiting to see how school districts will balance public health guidelines with tight budgets. The state has provided districts with the flexibility to have in-person instruction and remote learning. But districts are rushing against the clock as they are scheduled to start in early August. So far larger districts say that they are still working to finalize their plans, while smaller districts have already announced their plans. Here is what we know so far.”

CPS Teachers Share Concerns About Possibly Returning to Classrooms in the Fall

By Lexi Sutter for NBC

“While it remains unclear if Chicago Public Schools will resume in-person instruction this fall, many teachers have voiced concerns, wondering if returning to the classroom is worth the risk. At a press conference unrelated to the schools’ decision on Thursday, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said details on the district’s reopening plan are set to be released, though she declined to give a specific timeline. Paula Barajas, a special education teacher at Ruiz Elementary School on the city’s West Side, said keeping schools clean was a challenge even before the coronavirus pandemic.”

CPS sports camps allowed to resume under updated IHSA ‘Return to Play’ guidelines

By Jessica D’Onofrio for WLS

“Chicago Public Schools’ student athletes were allowed meet again as of Monday for the first time since March, but will remain hands-off for now. The coronavirus put a hold on gatherings earlier this year, which included sports. Now, teams are preparing for socially distanced sports as the pandemic continues. George Washington High School on the Far South Side held soccer conditioning along Lake Michigan, but it was not a traditional practice. “[We’re] keep our distance and mainly do drills that are spread apart with cones – to have the least amount of chance to get it,” said Angel Avila, who plays soccer for George Washington High School. CPS announced all school athletic teams must abide by the Illinois High School Associations “Return to Play” guidelines, which includes no physical contact among athletes, social distancing and temperature checks.”

Chicago’s Local School Councils are weighing whether to keep cops in schools. Here are the meetings this week

By Yana Kunichoff and Pascal Sabino for Chalkbeat & Block Club Chicago  

“Local school councils across Chicago are weighing whether to keep or remove school police officers. So far, two local school councils, representative bodies made up of parents, teachers and community members, have voted to remove school resource officers. Northside College Prep’s Local School Council in North Park voted 8-0 to remove its officers on campus this fall. Members of Roberto Clemente Community Academy’s Local School Council are leaning toward removing school officers — but before they make a final decision, they want to hear from the community. The group voted 8-3 in favor of eliminating school officers in a nonbinding “advisory” vote. Recent months have seen a growing youth-led movement in Chicago calling for an end to school police programs, buoyed by similar decisions in other cities spurred by nationwide protests against police violence against Black people.”

Decision on whether to keep school cops highlights uneven role of CPS local school councils

By Nader Issa for the Chicago Sun-Times

“Mayor Lori Lightfoot and schools chief Janice Jackson have said LSCs are the ultimate authority on the issue because they know best each school’s unique needs. But more than a dozen schools where police are stationed either have an LSC that doesn’t have full voting authority — several councils don’t have at least seven members, the number needed for a quorum — or don’t have an LSC at all. Those schools without functioning LSCs are all — with the exception of one on the Northwest Side — on the South and West Sides and serve almost entirely low-income Black and Latino students.”

Schools get $50 million more in emergency funding to help close ‘digital divide’

By Clare Proctor for the Chicago Sun-Times

“Public schools across the state will receive an additional $50 million from the governor’s emergency education relief fund, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Tuesday. The money will go toward closing the digital divide and training educators and families to assist students in using technology. It also will help launch a student care department within the State Board of Education, equipping school districts to support students who’ve experienced trauma. The $3 billion governor’s emergency education relief fund was established as part of the coronavirus stimulus bill. U.S. Department of Education granted the money to governors to support schools during an emergency.”