A CPS Classroom Return For Pre-K And Special Needs Students | #specialneeds | #kids

Chicago Public Schools principals say they were told on Thursday that the school district is planning on resuming in-person instruction for preschool students and some students with disabilities who receive special education services.

But most CPS students will not return to the classroom for the second semester, which starts on Nov. 9.

Neither the mayor’s office nor Chicago Public Schools officials responded to a request for comment on this plan.

But Mayor Lori Lightfoot hinted at this earlier this week when she said that she was particularly concerned about remote learning participation of young students and students with disabilities.

“There are some categories of students who really struggle with remote learning, where they need the touch of being in a classroom, with their teachers and having those additional supports,” Lightfoot said.

The Chicago Teachers Union opposes the plan. It came out against what it calls “the mayor’s dangerous strategy” a Friday morning press conference. It says it does not believe the school district has put in place needed safety measures, and it notes that in some neighborhoods positivity rates are very high.

“That move defies the science and puts thousands of students, family members and educators at risk,” the union wrote in press release.

CPS CEO Janice Jackson also started to make the case for bringing back some students for in-person learning. She said she sees it as an equity issue.

“Some students do very well in an environment like [remote learning], because they have a lot of resources in support in order to make it work. But there are a lot of students in Chicago Public Schools, majority of our students, they need an extraordinary amount of support in a regular setting. And so making that work in this remote setting has been challenging,” Jackson said earlier this week at an unrelated press conference.

The principals tell WBEZ they were told CPS was moving forward with this plan because preschool attendance is down and the school district wants those students engaged.

The principals, who did not want to be identified, said they had many unanswered questions for school district officials about this plan.

Sarah Karp covers education for WBEZ. Follow her on Twitter @WBEZeducation and @sskedreporter.

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