Top Education Stories You Don’t Want to Miss: October 24 – October 30, 2020

The Catalyst ROCKITS Bring Technology to All, Part 2

By Elevate Chicago

“At The Catalyst Schools, The ROCKITS team is comprised of staff members who directly manage the schools’ IT systems as well as  a Director of Instructional Technology & Data – LeAnne Wagner. Her critical role is to be the connecting piece between the IT department and the teachers and administrators.  Because she has a background in teaching, as well as skills in technology, she is able to connect the two together to bring outstanding results for the Catalyst community, especially during this critical time for technology. At Catalyst, they know that instructional staff and IT staff will always look at things differently.  They have different perspectives, different responsibilities and different methods.  The one big thing they have in common, however, is the end goal.  That end goal is to make technology available and integral for the process of teaching and learning.”


CPS board president says reopening has to happen eventually to help vulnerable students, acknowledges it will be before ‘100% … are satisfied that it is safe’

By Nader Issa for The Sun-Times

“Chicago school board members sought to quell parent and teacher concerns Wednesday about a possible return to in-person learning, stressing that nobody would be brought back to classrooms under dire public health circumstances but emphasizing that the youngest kids and those in special education need a more viable option than remote learning. Reopening “will take place, and it will take place probably before 100% of you are satisfied that it is safe,” Board President Miguel Del Valle told members of the public. “Because that’s reality. But we are not going to plan to open schools if there’s any indication, particularly from the science, that there is danger to our faculty, to our staff and to our students.” CPS CEO Janice Jackson reiterated that the district is trying to balance health and safety with the need for all students to have a quality education. She said the push to resume in-person learning stems from families’ worries about the limits of remote classes as well as plummeting enrollment in pre-K and elementary schools that officials called an “educational crisis.”


Amid Outcry From Parents And Teachers, Chicago Public Schools Officials Insist They Can Safely Reopen

By Adriana Cardona-Maguigad for WBEZ

“Chicago Public Schools teachers and parents spoke out Wednesday against the district’s plan to reopen school for preschoolers and some students with special needs, citing concerns about safety as COVID-19 cases rise in the city, especially in predominantly Latino and Black neighborhoods. “Over the summer I was in support of a return to in-person as we had struggled so hard in the spring, but I knew that the district was not ready and safety protocols were not set up,” parent Anne Igoe, whose fourth grader has special needs, told Chicago Board of Education members Wednesday. She said remote learning is working much better now, and the district is asking families to return before knowing full details of its plan.”


CPS reports most weekly COVID-19 cases since pandemic began, but the numbers remain low. Can they stay that way if schools reopen next quarter?

By Hannah Leone for The Chicago Tribune

“Chicago Public Schools on Monday reported the greatest number of COVID-19 cases tied to its more than 500 school buildings in any week since the pandemic closed them in March. For the week ending Saturday, CPS reported that 29 adults who tested positive were in a school building when they were likely contagious. That brings the total to 119 cases at more than 90 schools since fall quarter began in September, including seven students, and 228 total cases since March. Though students and most teachers have been learning or working from home, a limited number of staff have been reporting to buildings, such as clerks, security officers, technology coordinators, cafeteria workers, custodians and administrators. Of the cases reported this quarter, most have been isolated, with 19 schools reporting two or more cases. Two elementary schools, Edwards and Pulaski, have each reported four cases, while three schools — Greeley Elementary, Hubbard High and Northside Prep — have each reported three cases, according to CPS data.”


Catholic elementary schools will switch to virtual learning for two weeks after Christmas break

By Manny Ramos for The Chicago Sun-Times

“Catholic elementary schools in the Archdiocese of Chicago will pivot to remote learning for two weeks at the start of 2021. Schools will begin e-learning on Jan. 4 and will return on Jan. 19 after the Martin Luther King Day holiday. In a letter to parents sent Friday, Jim Rigg, superintendent of Catholic Schools, said the switch was made to allow families who travel or have large family gatherings during Thanksgiving and Christmas to quarantine for 14 days to prevent an outbreak of COVID-19 in its schools. While Chicago Public Schools has used remote learning this fall, Archdiocese of Chicago Catholic Schools students have been meeting mostly in person. In the letter, Rigg explained some archdiocese schools have had to implement learning quarantine periods this year because of infections but hopes the two weeks of e-learning for all its schools will limit the need for any isolated quarantines. Each school will still provide “on-site extended care options” for students whose families may be burdened by the move to virtual learning.”