Top Education Stories You Don’t Want to Miss: January 8 – January 14, 2022

How One West Side Charter School Kept Students In Class Through The Latest COVID-19 Surge

By Pascal Sabino for Block Club Chicago

“While a battle between Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Teachers Union stopped in-person classes for most of the city’s students, one West Side charter school was able to operate as normal thanks to extensive precautions, planning and frequent communication with parents. North Lawndale College Prep, split between campuses at 1615 S. Christiana Ave. and 1313 S. Sacramento Drive., has continued in-person classes since returning from winter break despite the latest surge in COVID-19 cases. Its strategy resembles some of the key demands union leaders had proposed to safely return students to classrooms. The school, which enrolls just less than 800 students, has made masks, testing and vaccines widely available and easy to access, parents said, and administrators have been strict about social distancing, school scheduling to avoid overcrowding and proper mask wearing.”


Illinois reduces quarantine time for schools from 10 to 5 days to align with CDC guidance amid COVID-19 surge

By Karen Ann Cullotta for The Chicago Tribune

“As Illinois schools struggle to staff classrooms pummeled by the latest COVID-19 surge, state officials said Tuesday they halved the recommended quarantine time for students and teachers from 10 to five days. Officials with the Illinois Department of Public Health and the state’s board of education said earlier this month the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recently updated isolation and quarantine guidance, which was slashed from 10 to five days, would only apply to the general public, and would not yet impact schools. The guidance says students and school employees who test positive for COVID-19, regardless of vaccination status, must “stay home for a minimum of five days and a maximum of 10 days after the first day of symptoms,” or the date from a positive viral test for those who are asymptomatic, according to the ISBE website. In addition, students and staff who test positive must “continue to wear a mask around others for five more days after returning to school,” officials said. Individuals may return to school after five days if asymptomatic or “fever-free without fever-reducing medication for 24 hours, diarrhea/vomiting have ceased for 24 hours, and other symptoms have improved.” The leaders of the state’s two largest teachers unions said they had not been alerted by the state board, nor the health department, that the new CDC recommendations would apply to Illinois schools starting this week.”


Chicago public school students will return to classroom Wednesday after teachers union suspends work action, mayor says

By Amir Vera, Brad Parks and Holly Yan for CNN

“Chicago teachers will be back in school Tuesday and students are scheduled to return to in-person learning on Wednesday after the Chicago Teachers Union house of delegates voted to end the teachers’ work action over Covid-19 mitigation measures, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said at a Monday night news conference. Earlier, the union representing public school teachers had tweeted: “The Chicago Teachers Union House of Delegates has voted tonight to suspend the Union’s remote work action while rank-and-file membership votes on the proposed agreement.” The Chicago Teachers Union said Monday night that it expects to open polls Tuesday for rank-and-file members to vote on the agreement.”


Illinois asks Biden for COVID tests for Chicago schools

By Crain’s Chicago Business

“Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker has asked the Biden administration for Covid-19 tests to help resolve the latest dispute between Chicago Public Schools and its teachers union, a disagreement that’s led to the cancellation of classes for three straight days. “I spoke in the last couple of days with the White House to ask them for help for Chicago Public Schools,” Pritzker said in an interview Thursday. “There is a challenge all over the nation in need of testing but I think there is an urgent need in Chicago because we want to get those kids back in school.” A rising demand nationally for tests has led to supply constraints, and there aren’t enough on hand at the state level to satisfy demand in Chicago and the rest of Illinois. Pritzker said he called the White House about 36 hours ago with his request for the city’s school system. Pritzker didn’t describe what kinds of tests he requested or how many, and added “to be honest, we’ve asked for anything and everything they could provide that would help us fulfill the need for testing in all Chicago Public Schools.” He said he connected the district to officials from the White House because the schools know what they need. “Parents are suffering, children are suffering when they can’t get back in school and I understand teachers need to be safe in school as kids are,” he said. “The parties need to come together and find common middle ground and I have not yet seen that but I am hopeful.”