Chicago Public Schools Welcomes Back Students for First Day of School Monday, August 22
22 August 2022
The District to focus on students’ academic progress and well-being, expanded college and career preparation opportunities, and operational efficiencies and improvements during the school year
CHICAGO – Chicago Public Schools (CPS) students returned to classes today, Monday, August 22, one week earlier than last year, for a school year that promises to help students succeed academically and socially-emotionally. Learning in the nation’s third largest school district begins with an additional $240 million in educational investments and priorities, updated health guidance to support in-person student attendance, and a calendar year that is aligned with surrounding districts and provides two additional days of teacher professional development.
“We are excited to welcome back our amazing students and families as we begin a new year of teaching and learning both inside and outside the classroom,” said CEO Martinez. “Our new health guidelines pave the way for uninterrupted learning time to help drive greater pre-K-12th grade academic progress and increased peer-to-peer and student-teacher connections as we emerge from more than two years of the pandemic.”
CEO Martinez and District leadership set a new foundational standard of excellence for all schools in 2022-23 that will feature:
- Reasonable class sizes and fewer split grade-level classes
- Expanded school programming in pre-K, the arts, dual language, and college prep
- Additional support and professional development for teachers
- Targeted support at schools that serve students with the most needs
- Stronger social-emotional and mental health supports
“Our carefully developed District priorities better support our extraordinary students on their journey to contributing and collaborating in our global society,” said Chief Education Officer Bogdana Chkoumbova. “As a system, we aim to ensure our students graduate and move on to college, the trades or other technical jobs, prepared and ready to succeed.”
The District continues to strengthen instructional strategies and practices in core subjects and implementation of the District Skyline curriculum with Skyline SY23 professional learning for teachers that features flexible scheduling options and combines centralized support from content experts with school-based collaborative inquiry by teacher teams.
The District’s Department of Literacy is launching numerous initiatives for SY23, including implementation of Skyline English Language Arts in approximately 200 schools and support of a District-wide focus on pre-K-5th grade foundational reading skills, including partnering with more than 100 elementary schools in implementing structured literacy-based foundational skills programs, ensuring students develop strong reading accuracy and fluency, among other initiatives.
The Department of STEM continues to make significant progress on the District’s commitment to strengthen pathways to advanced mathematics by increasing access to high-school algebra for 8th graders. In SY23 all 383 schools with 8th graders will now offer an in-person or remote Algebra Hub option for students. In addition, the math team will support about 150 schools as they implement the Skyline Math curriculum which has an emphasis on problem-based learning tied to real-world scenarios.
Some additional SY23 programming includes
CPS continues to expand its preschool opportunities as it moves closer to offering full-time pre-school in all 77 Chicago neighborhoods by 2023-24. This year, the District has the capacity to serve nearly 14,500 students with openings still available for more than 4,000 four-year-olds.
About 18 percent of the 4100 half-day spots for three-year-olds remain open and about a quarter of the 14,500 full day seats for four-year-olds remain open.
The District has streamlined and broadened the application policy and process for the Virtual Academy for SY 2022-23. Students with a medical condition documented in an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or 504 and a doctor referral that indicates virtual learning is the best setting, will be accepted, not only those deemed medically fragile.
The Virtual Academy will now manage all inquiries and the acceptance process at the school level, for a more streamlined process. The Virtual Academy is partnering with CPS high schools to increase access to advanced placement and dual credit courses in SY 2022-23; elementary schools will have access to virtual middle school Spanish and Algebra lessons. These classes will provide access to advanced coursework at targeted schools.
In FY 2021-22 the District established Tutor Corps programming in 214 schools with 475 tutors by the end of the school year and plans to expand to 230 schools, with 760 tutors, in the 2022-23 school year.
This high-dosage tutoring program is being implemented in our schools with the greatest needs for additional academic support. Tutor Corps engages schools with tutors in both literacy and math, with a specific focus on K-5 literacy, middle school math, and high school algebra.
Continued expansion of middle school career exploration and experiences such as the one to three-week-long career camps offered this past summer for middle school students that gave them an overview and hands-on experience in a variety of fields, from aviation, coding, the culinary arts and healthcare.
Development of more model career pathways in partnership with City Colleges of Chicago and industry partners. These pathways allow CPS students to earn a semester of early college credit and participate in work-based learning along a continuum, culminating in internships and/or youth apprenticeships as early as the 10th grade.
New and expanded opportunities for all students to make an impact on their school, the District, and their communities in collaboration with their schools and the District’s Department of Student Voice and Engagement
The FY2023 budget totals $9.4 billion, an increase from the District’s $9.3 billion FY2022 budget, with a per-pupil funding increase of eight percent to ensure that students and schools are funded equitably and responsibly. The budget contains $4.6 billion in school-level funding, an increase of over $240 million from FY2022.
CPS will invest $645 million in capital projects to address priority facility needs that support 21st century learning environments that will help keep our children healthy and safe and improve their educational experience. Some of the renovation projects and improvements include new pre-K facilities, athletic stadiums and fields, new playgrounds as well as maintenance and repairs from new roofs to stormwater retention projects.
CPS will continue to serve free breakfast and lunch to every student all year and students are working with the District’s Nutrition Support Services to expand menu options. This summer, CPS hosted taste testing sessions with students and community members to gauge their thoughts on current and possible menu items.
A new CPS school year calendar means students are starting school a week earlier than last school year. Under the prior calendar year schedule, high school students were often finishing projects and facing semester exams soon after their return in January while the new calendar, with an earlier start, offers a clear end to the semester prior to winter break to support uninterrupted learning. The calendar, developed with feedback from students, parents and staff, also aligns with surrounding districts and builds in two additional days of professional development for teachers prior to students return on the 22nd.
CPS will continue to offer free, weekly in-school COVID-19 testing to students and staff who are interested. Importantly, anyone who wants to enroll in testing this year will need to fill out an updated consent form — regardless of whether or not you participated in weekly testing last year. That updated consent form can be accessed here. Consent forms from last school year or this summer will not be valid for the 2022–23 school year. However, once a student or staff member has consented this year, that consent will remain in place until they leave CPS.
In keeping with the latest guidance from the CDC, CPS is modifying what was referred to as its Test to Stay program for this school year. Moving forward, any student or staff member who is exposed to COVID-19 in school — regardless of vaccination status — will no longer be required to learn or work from home for five days, but will be required to wear a mask in school for 10 days following exposure, and will be strongly encouraged to test three and five days after exposure. CPS will provide families and staff members with rapid take-home tests if they are exposed, and will strongly encourage families to use them in order to prevent spread and ensure safe in-person learning for all students and staff. Individuals who test positive will be required to isolate for five days and may return but must wear a mask for days six-10 if symptoms have subsided.
CPS will continue to strongly recommend masking in school, and masks will continue to be required if there is a positive case identified in a classroom, after being exposed in a school setting, and/or at the direction of the Chicago Department of Public Health. Individuals who test positive will be required to isolate/quarantine for five days and may return - masked - on the sixth day if their symptoms have subsided.
The District will provide transportation services for most eligible students by the first day of this school year amid a national bus driver shortage exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The District has already approved routes for nearly 16,000 students and is working diligently to ensure that all Diverse Learners and Students in Temporary Housing have access to school buses or agree to a $500 monthly stipend. Students in general education classes who have not been routed will be provided with a free CTA pass for themselves as well as an accompanying adult. The District has increased the number of contracts with transportation companies and helped raise the wages of bus drivers as part of its efforts to recruit and retain more drivers.
Between July 15 and Aug. 11, CEO Martinez and top District leaders greeted more than 17,000 families at the District’s 10 Back-to-School Bashes across the city. Students and families connected with their school communities, received backpacks filled with school supplies, and many took advantage of access to free COVID-19 vaccines and health-related information.
“There is nothing like the start of a new school year and our bashes reflected our collective sense of excitement and hope about learning and growing this school year,” said CEO Martinez. “It is great to see so many students, parents and educators having fun together and eager for new learning opportunities and new beginnings.”