Top Education Stories You Don’t Want to Miss: September 4 – September 10, 2021

Our Teachers and Staff Are #ReadyToReturn

By the Noble Network of Charter Schools

“Staff and teachers across Noble Schools are pumped to get back to in-person learning and interact with their students face-to-face again. They’re not only ready to welcome students back safely (check out our Health and Safety plan), but they’re ready and excited to put the new changes Noble has been going through since the start of 2020 into action…They’ve also got some advice for students as they come back into the buildings. Check out what staff and teachers from ITW David Speer, DRW and Rowe-Clark are saying about the new school year.”


CPS students to return to the classroom; unvaccinated students who traveled asked to stay home

By WGN Web Desk

“Chicago Public School students return to the classroom this morning following the Labor Day weekend. However, anyone who hasn’t been vaccinated and travelled out of town for the holiday will have to stay at home — without remote learning as an option. CPS informed students and families of the guidelines before the holiday weekend. If a child is unvaccinated, CPS wants them to produce a negative Covid test and still quarantine for seven days after returning to the state. If a child doesn’t get tested, they are required to stay home for 10 days. Parents should notify the schools that their child will be absent and it will be excused by the school. After 24 hours, students will be given take home work.”


CPS won’t administer COVID-19 tests at all schools until mid-September, officials say

By Nader Issa for The Chicago Sun-Times

“After touting a large-scale plan for weekly COVID-19 testing of all Chicago Public Schools students and staff this fall, district officials said Thursday that the program won’t operate at full capacity until a few weeks into the school year. Parents, students and educators who expected widespread testing at the start of the school year have been left frustrated by the delay and anxious about whether it would hurt early detection of case clusters developing in schools. Officials first announced Aug. 6 that they were “committed to testing 100% of CPS students and staff each week.” It was a surprise move because Chicago Teachers Union leaders hadn’t even heard at private bargaining sessions about a plan for such wide-scale testing. Though CPS said it wouldn’t mandate testing, the district said it would be ready to test all students and staff at the start of the school year, despite a contract for the work not being finalized until last week.”


CPS mandates return to in-person school council meetings, irking some representatives

By Nader Issa for The Chicago Sun-Times

“Now that Chicago Public Schools students have returned for in-person classes, the district wants Local School Councils to resume in-person meetings for the first time during the pandemic, a move that has upset some elected school representatives. If there was a pandemic silver lining at CPS over the past year and a half, it was the increased engagement that some LSCs saw when their meetings moved online. While select schools didn’t see large attendance upticks virtually, others had hundreds of people log on, a far cry from many in-person LSC meetings in the past where few, if any, people showed up. From Spanish translation to hearing-impaired services, LSCs were as accessible as ever from the comfort of families’ homes. But keeping in line with a return to pre-pandemic practices, virtual LSC meetings must come to an end, CPS officials told the school councils last week.”


Parents Of Children With Disabilities Join The Legal Battle Over Masks In Schools

By Sneha Dey for WBEZ

“In a wave of lawsuits in nearly half a dozen states, families of students with disabilities are joining the legal battle over masks in schools. Complaints filed in Tennessee, Florida, Utah, Texas and South Carolina argue that restrictions on mask mandates infringe on disability rights and that children with disabilities are being forced to choose between their health and their education. The U.S. Department of Education has also said restrictions on mask mandates may be discriminatory against students with disabilities. On Aug. 30, the department’s Office for Civil Rights announced it is investigating mask mandate restrictions in five states, including in Tennessee, Utah and South Carolina. With restrictions on mask mandates in place, disability rights advocates are arguing that students with disabilities are putting their lives at risk to attend school.”


Illinois gives school districts leeway for remote instruction amid COVID outbreaks

By Samantha Smylie for Chalkbeat

“Illinois districts will be required to offer remote learning to all students who are quarantined after being potentially exposed to COVID-19 in school, under a resolution passed Tuesday by the state board of education. In an earlier resolution issued by the board, remote instruction was limited to students who are unvaccinated or ineligible for a COVID vaccine if they were under quarantine orders from a local public health department or the state department of health. The new public health guidelines also give school districts the ability to close school buildings under an “adaptive pause” if there is an outbreak at schools. The updated resolution comes amid the emergence of the highly contagious delta variant and a spike in COVID case numbers and hospitalizations throughout the state. The number of schools on the state’s campus outbreak list grew to 81 as of Sept. 3; another 1,007 schools reported potential exposures. More districts have also been forced to contend with sizable numbers of students in quarantine.”

Any Illinois School District Can Offer Full-Time Remote Learning. Few Are Doing It.

By Susie An for WBEZ

“Only eight school districts in Illinois have submitted remote education program policies to ISBE for this year, including Chicago Public Schools for medically fragile students. These districts are breaking new ground, offering something few districts are making available. The state board, like most government bodies, said remote learning last year took a toll on students’ mental health and academics and insists that in-person learning is safe with the right mitigation measures in place. For this year, it said remote learning was only for students who are unvaccinated and under quarantine or for medically fragile students. However, before the pandemic hit, Illinois law allowed districts to adopt a remote educational program if a district determined that best served a student’s individual learning needs, and if the student meets criteria defined by the district’s policy.”