Top Education Stories You Don’t Want to Miss: October 23 – October 29, 2021

An Inside Look at Noble’s Contact Tracing

By the Noble Network of Charter Schools

“On a Sunday at 2:30 p.m., a Noble Schools student reported that they had tested positive for COVID-19. Within three minutes, our COVID-19 Rapid Response team confirmed they had received the report and started investigating. By 3:33 p.m. the same day, the team had finished the investigation: they determined all close contacts and contacted campus staff with all the information they needed to inform students and families. At Noble Schools, this kind of response is the norm. For almost every positive COVID-19 case reported, contact tracing is completed within a few hours. Campus staff are notified immediately. After that, most of our families are informed if their student was exposed within 24 hours of the report. This fast turnaround rate helps families make quick decisions to keep their students and themselves safe. This is all made possible because of our dedicated COVID-19 Rapid Response Team, headed by Ana Vasan. “Before [the team], we had some volunteers within the Operations department that were just jumping on the case response side of things,” Vasan said, “Now that there is a team, they do it. They run it. It’s their full day job.” The three-person team works seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. to run case investigations for positive COVID-19 reports from all 18 of our campuses. They are in direct contact with every person involved in a report, from students to parents and staff. Since the team started on September 13, Vasan says they have been steadily improving their process by implementing feedback from campus staff and families. “I would say we make at least a few changes to the process every week, maybe a change a day,” Vasan said, “One really nice thing about getting to be in personal contact with students, parents, and staff is that we’ve been able to create some relationships so that when something is wrong, people tell us… and we can respond to that.”


NLCP Student Receives Honorable Mention Award from CPD

By The Lawndale News

“The Chicago Police Department honored NLCP student Derrick Anderson with an honorable mention for Derrick’s intervention in an altercation earlier this summer. Police Chief Ernest Cato III witnessed Derrick Anderson intervene in a heated argument between two young students. Chief Cato assumed Anderson was a staff member at the event and later came to find that he was a student from North Lawndale College Prep who was trained as a Peace Warrior.”


A Work in Progress: Noble’s Fall Pause and All Staff Professional Development

By the Noble Schools

“Last week, Noble Schools took a pause to allow teachers and staff to reflect on the first quarter, make plans, and get more training to better support our students. Students were out of the buildings as staff spent the week prepping for second quarter and attending professional development sessions. During the all-staff opening session, our CEO Constance Jones acknowledged the challenges we’ve had and reiterated the commitments we aim to achieve this year.”


COVID-19 Safety at Noble Street College Prep

By the Noble Schools

“Returning to school has been a whirlwind of emotions for students, teachers, and families, but the overwhelming feelings of joy and excitement have been at the forefront of our return. Noble Street’s hallways have been filled with laughter and excitement and emotional greetings since week one of the school year. However, along with the joy, there have been reservations and fears about safety from both students and families, as well as Noble Street’s teachers. Here is what we’re doing to ensure the safety of our students and families: Everyday, Noble Street students and staff slip on their mask and secure it over our nose and mouth before entering the school building. They are then reminded about the importance of washing their hands with signs throughout the school. Hand sanitizing stations are available in every hallway.”

Chicago narrows racial gaps in 5-year graduation rate, but disparities persist

By Mila Koumpilova for Chalkbeat Chicago

“Despite the pandemic’s disruption, Chicago high school students graduated at a record high rate for the second year in a row this past spring, with upticks for students of all races. Overall, 83.8% of students graduated in five years in 2021, compared with a rate of 82.5% last year, the district said Thursday. That increase comes after a year of largely remote learning, marked by increases in failing grades and drops in attendance, especially for students of color. The four-year rate declined slightly, from 80.8% in 2020 to 80.2% this school year. Officials said gains in graduation among Black students helped drive the growth, with the rate for Black males increasing by 2.1% year-over-year and for Black females increasing by 1.8%. Graduation rate growth among Latino students did not keep pace with the district’s growth overall, with the rate for Latino males increasing by 0.3 percentage points and for Latino females increasing by 0.5 percentage points.”


Transfers to private schools, suburban districts, homeschooling spur latest CPS enrollment drop

By Nader Issa for The Chicago Sun-Times

“Chicago Public Schools’ latest enrollment drop was spurred largely by students leaving the city for schools in the suburbs, downstate or entirely out of the state, plus children moving to city private schools, parents opting for homeschooling or kids falling off the district’s radar, new data released Wednesday shows. The number of students falling into one of those categories totaled almost 26,000 and left CPS hanging on by a thread to its status as the third-largest district in the nation. The school system suffered its 10th consecutive year of falling enrollment, now down to 330,000 from last year’s 341,000, according to a tally on the 20th day of this school year.”


City unveils plans to give COVID-19 vaccine to younger children

By Stefano Esposito for The Chicago Sun-Times

“The city’s top public health official on Tuesday promised that there will be no shortage of the COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available to children ages 5 to 11 — possibly by early November. About 100,000 pediatric doses of the vaccine are expected to arrive in the city during the first week of its availability, Arwady said, speaking to reporters at City Hall. There are about 210,000 children in the 5 to 11 age range living in the city, she said.”


Chicago holds on to title of nation’s third largest school district — just barely

By Mila Koumpivola for Chalkbeat Chicago

“Reporting declines among all racial groups and a spike in students decamping for private schools, Chicago Public Schools shrank by another roughly 10,000 students this fall, or about 3% of its student body. With a total enrollment of 330,411 students, the district appears poised to hold on to the title of the country’s third largest — but just barely. Miami-Dade reports an enrollment of only about 1,000 fewer students than Chicago this school year.”


CPS CEO to hire two San Antonio schools officials as his top deputies

By Nader Issa for The Chicago Sun-Times 

“Two San Antonio schools officials are following CPS CEO Pedro Martinez to Chicago to become his top two deputies in the nation’s third-largest school system, sources told the Chicago Sun-Times. Patti Salzmann is expected to be named the district’s new chief education officer as soon as next month, and Ken Thompson is set to take the chief operating officer job this month, sources said.”