At Direction of Public Health Officials, Mayor Lightfoot and Chicago Public Schools Announce CPS Schools Closed Until April 21 Due to COVID-19 Outbreak
19 March 2020
Due to Prolonged Closure, the District Will Suspend SQRP Ratings, Pending Board and ISBE Approval
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Thursday, March 19, 2020
CHICAGO - At the direction of the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH), Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and Chicago Public Schools (CPS) CEO Dr. Janice K. Jackson today announced that CPS schools will remain closed until Tuesday, April 21, to mitigate the spread of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). Network and central offices will continue to remain closed, and emergency personnel will continue to report to work.
"Extending our school closures is a difficult but necessary decision to ensure the health and safety of our students, staff, families and entire city during the COVID-19 health emergency," said Mayor Lightfoot. "While our students remain at home, City officials and support teams will continue to work around the clock to ensure our young people get the food and other resources they need until classes resume."
“We know that the best way to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our communities is to reduce social contact,” said Dr. Allison Arwady, Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health. “The measures that Mayor Lightfoot and Dr. Jackson are putting in place for schools help us with that goal. We appreciate their commitment to doing what’s necessary to save lives.”
“The continued closure of our city’s great schools poses an unprecedented challenge for our families, and we are committed to doing everything in our power to support them,” said CPS CEO Dr. Janice K. Jackson. “Canceling school is always a last resort, but this decision is necessary to promote the wellbeing of our community, and we will do everything in our power to lift up our families in the days ahead.”
All CPS families and staff are being alerted to the district-wide closure via e-mail and robocall, and CPS will continue to work with citywide leadership to coordinate resources for students across schools. Information for families is available at cps.edu/coronavirus and families with questions can call the CPS command center at 773-553-KIDS (5437) or email email@example.com.
Due to the extended closure period, it is necessary for the district to reassess significant school assessment timelines and procedures. The following actions are being taken by the the district:
- Proposed Suspension of SQRP Accountability Ratings: Due to the extensive number of school days lost this year, it is necessary for the district to seek a one-year waiver from the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) on the district’s School Quality Rating Policy (SQRP) and recommend to the Chicago Board of Education that we maintain the current SQRP ratings and carry them forward into the next school year.
- End-of-year district-mandated assessments are canceled: Effective immediately, the district will cancel all remaining district-specific assessments: NWEA, STAR and REACH Performance Tasks.
“As a result of the significant loss of instruction days this school year, it is necessary for the district to ensure schools and students are assessed fairly based on the academic opportunities that could be provided this year,” said CPS Chief Education Officer LaTanya D. McDade. “We will continue to keep educators and families updated on any other potential changes that are warranted given the unexpected challenges we are facing.”
The measures announced today do not represent an exhaustive list of all of the academic opportunities that may be impacted by this closure. We are fully committed to ensuring students can access assessments tied to college entry, selective enrollment admission, and grade promotion, and we will keep families informed regarding any adjustments to the assessment calendar.
Free Meals for CPS Families
Since the first day of the closure, CPS schools have been providing take-home meals for families outside of schools throughout the city. Over 90,000 packages with three days worth of food for each child have been provided since Tuesday, March 17, and the district remains committed to offering families free meal packages for every child in a household throughout the closure. Thanks to the incredibly dedicated staff who are supporting this effort in CPS schools, food can be picked up between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. every weekday during the closure.
Enrichment Supports for Students
To help support students and families while class is not in session, the district posted enrichment resources and materials at cps.edu/coronavirus and provided students with hard copies of these materials prior to the beginning of the closure. In addition to these materials, we are preparing additional resources and guidance for families and educators, which will be made available in the days ahead.
More information and updates on COVID-19 can be found on the IDPH website (dph.illinois.gov), the CDPH (chicago.gov/cdph), and the CDC website (cdc.gov). Residents can seek more information and updates on COVID-19, by tuning into Mayor Lightfoot’s Facebook or Twitter for “The Doctor Is In” livestream Mondays-Fridays at 11 a.m. For mobile updates, text COVID19 to 78015 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chicago Public Schools serves 355,000 students in 642 schools. It is the nation’s third-largest school district.