Updated December 4, 2020
COVID-19 and REMOTE LEARNING
Updated December 4, 2020
CPS plans to welcome students in pre-k and moderate and intensive cluster programs back to in-person learning on Monday, January 11, with students in grades K-8 following three weeks later on Monday, February 1. High school students enrolled in a general education setting, and students enrolled in the district’s academic centers, will continue learning at home, and we will evaluate in-person learning options for those students in 2021. Families who prefer to have their children continue learning at home will still have that option.
CPS would only consider reopening schools if our public health officials believe it is safe to do so. The district’s plan has been reviewed and approved by the Chicago Department of Public Health, and we will continue to work closely with public health officials to ensure we are following the latest public health guidance.
Child Learning Hubs are sites hosted by either CPS or community-based organizations where a limited number of students are able to attend remote classes while being supervised by an adult in a safe environment. Parents who are interested in enrolling their child in a Child Learning Hub can complete this survey. Additional supervision options are available on the My CHI. My Future. Website.
Students who choose to continue learning from home will receive daily live, synchronous instruction. Pre-k students will receive a minimum of 60 minutes of live, synchronous, instruction per day. All other grades will receive a minimum of 150 minutes of live, synchronous instruction per day, per ISBE guidelines.
Schools will provide classrooms additional sets of high-touch items to reduce school supply sharing. CPS is following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which includes a regular cleaning schedule for classroom materials and removing items that cannot be sanitized from the classroom. In addition, items that become soiled by bodily fluids will be removed from the classroom until they are sanitized.
Temporary school building closure due to COVID-19 is possible. For example, if multiple COVID-19 cases occur in a school and there is evidence of in-school transmission, the school would likely close and reopen once safe to do so.
Parents and guardians may request a cloth face covering accommodation for their child based on a specific medical condition. Please have this form completed by a medical professional, and provide the completed form to your child’s principal or school nurse. Each situation will be evaluated individually to ensure the needs of all students are met.
Due to COVID-19, we are asking schools not to participate in in-person field trips until further notice.
Once we have family interest data, we will be working with our specialty schools (e.g., Vaughn) to develop a plan for serving their students. If interest levels are high and small class sizes are not possible, the schools will implement hybrid instruction to ensure all interested students can receive in-person instruction.
The district is hiring 400 additional custodians to ensure comprehensive cleaning protocols are completed every day. These protocols include: increasing frequency of cleanings, especially in areas that are touched more often, such as doorknobs, the use of EPA-approved cleaning products designed to kill the COVID-19 virus, and provided additional support for half-day pre--k programming.
School buildings are open to staff. Families should not send their children to schools.
Yes. Families can pick up free grab-and-go meals for every student in each household. Lunchroom staff will prepare and provide meals outside of school buildings. Visit cps.edu/mealsites to check meal site hours and find a meal site near you.
If you are unable to pick up meals in person, please contact the CPS Command Center to schedule meal delivery at 773-553-KIDS (5437) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Emergency personnel are staff members who perform essential district functions, such as designated payroll and accounting employees. Emergency personnel who are required for food distribution, cleaning, and core operations at schools are listed below:
Please call the CPS Command Center at 773-553-KIDS (5437) or email email@example.com.
CPS is updating cps.edu/reopening2020 and sending regular emails to families and staff to provide the most up-to-date information regarding reopening schools. The district will also post notifications on social media (Twitter: @ChiPubSchools |Instagram @ChiPubSchools |Facebook @ChicagoPublicSchools). If you have any questions, please contact the CPS Command Center at firstname.lastname@example.org or 773-553-KIDS.
Every K-12 student is engaged for the entirety of a typical school day. Pre-K students receive live instruction, but given the unique needs of our youngest learners, more time and focus will be spent on small group interaction and parental support.
To ensure schools best meet the needs of their unique student body, the district has defined a set of standards that provide schools flexibility in designing the school day to best meet the needs of their community. The specifics of students' schedules are provided to families by school staff.
In the spring of 2020, CPS provided educators with guidance, tools, resources, and professional learning to support with remote learning implementation. In July, CPS launched the SY20-21 Instructional Priorities Summer Learning Series, designed to focus on clarifying the CPS instructional vision and providing shared, flexible learning opportunities for teachers and administrators. CPS also produced an SY21 Remote Learning Guide that provides updates to remote learning expectations and useful information on how to strengthen the remote learning experience for all students. CPS is committed to providing ongoing professional learning, including resources on instructional technology best practices, content-specific learning, and preliminary digital curricular resources.
For SY20-21, CPS returned to its regular grading policies, with students earning letter grades based on standards mastery. The district will provide additional guidance on unique grading scenarios that could arise due to the impacts of COVID-19.
The district's Chicago Connected initiative provides free high-speed internet service to approximately 100,000 CPS students for four years. Eligible families were contacted over the summer through direct mail, emails, robocalls, and text messages. Principals have been provided a roster of students who are eligible for Chicago Connected. Families should contact their school for assistance.
Families should contact their school's principal to request a device. They can also contact the district's IT Helpdesk at 773-417-1060 for additional assistance.
Having a common platform ensures that the district can accurately track and support student engagement. Google's tools, such as Google Meet and Google Classroom, are synchronized with other district platforms and meet the district's acceptable use policy and security requirements.
Schools can use approved ed-tech tools that meet the district’s acceptable use policy, but teachers and students are expected to log onto Google on a daily basis for a homeroom check-in and utilize Google for live video instruction.
The district created pathway-specific recommendations for CTE courses. Most courses will combine in-person opportunities for students to work in the CTE labs with virtual coursework and work-based learning.
A hybrid learning plan includes a mixture of in-person instruction; independent, at-home learning; and real-time instruction at home. This learning plan will look different for students based on grade:
A combination of learning models will allow the district to adapt alongside Illinois' public health response to COVID-19 and the diverse needs of school communities. A hybrid approach will also allow learning to continue uninterrupted should students need to learn at home full-time for health reasons.
To maintain a safe environment during in-person instruction, students will be assigned to pods. Student pods will be small, fixed groups of approximately 15 students. Each pod will have minimal interactions with students and staff in other pods. If a case of COVID-19 is confirmed at the school, this model minimizes the potential number of exposures to the virus and allows for timely and efficient contact tracing. If a COVID-19 case is identified, only that person’s pod may need to be quarantined instead of the entire school.
Students will remain in their pod throughout the day and additional teachers may rotate across pods to provide instruction across multiple subjects and breaks for classroom teachers. Students and teachers will wear masks and socially distance during instruction and meetings.
Per guidance from the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), students learning at home will have a minimum of five hours of instruction and assigned work per day. Activities and assignments could include pre-recorded lessons, independent work to build skills, and accessing digital curriculum resources. Student attendance will be tracked.
No, all students will be graded per the district’s grading policy.
The district is proposing a learn-at-home-only plan for high school students so they can benefit from being able to take their diverse, full array of course offerings. Due to the complexity of their class schedules, it isn’t possible to keep high school students and teachers in fixed pods (i.e., small groups of 15 students).
Families choosing the district’s learn-at-home-instructional model will continue to be affiliated with their schools and will not lose their seats. Families who opt out of public school entirely and choose to enroll in private school or home school will not retain a seat at their current school.
Students will access assignments through Google Classroom as part of a wider transition to Google platforms.
In the spring of 2020, we distributed over 128,000 devices to support students, and we continue to work with schools to identify and provide computing devices to students who still need them. To help narrow the digital divide for our high-need families, we launched Chicago Connected: a groundbreaking program that provides high-speed internet to CPS students and their families at no cost.
Eligibility for Chicago Connected is determined based on free and reduced price lunch status; Medicaid qualifications; community hardship index; and special student populations such as diverse learners, English learners, and students in temporary living situations (STLS). We are also extending hotspot coverage for STLS.
To obtain a device or internet service, please contact your school first. They will provide you with a device and help you determine if you are eligible for Chicago Connected. If you need additional assistance, please contact the IT Helpdesk at 773-417-1060.
Each day, all students, staff, and approved visitors must complete a symptom and risk screener online and undergo a temperature check.
The symptom and risk screener needs to be completed daily by a parent or guardian before a child arrives at school. We’re currently working to ensure all of a student’s approved guardians will be sent a unique screener for their child automatically each day. Students 18 or older can complete the screener for themselves.
To conduct temperature checks, schools will be equipped with more than 22,000 infrared thermometers for health screening. Anyone with a temperature of 100.4°F or higher will be sent home.
Students who are high-risk for COVID-19 may choose to learn through the remote model. Staff at high-risk for COVID-19 may request an accommodation for a leave of absence or to work remotely.
Parents or guardians need to complete the symptom and risk screener for each child every day after 5 a.m. and before they arrive at school. Staff will be able to view which students have been screened, and any child who does not have a completed screener will be screened upon arriving at school.
The symptom screener is available in English and Spanish. The appropriate language will be sent to each guardian according to the home language on record for that child.
The district is currently working to ensure all of a child’s approved guardians will be sent the online screener unique to each child automatically each day. In cases where another guardian must complete the daily screener, they may use the general screener posted at www.cps.edu/healthscreener.
Visitors may be restricted. Any permitted visitors will be required to follow the same safety protocols as students and staff, including completing a symptom screener, temperature check, and wearing a mask/appropriate PPE inside school buildings.
Yes. The number of people who can be in any room at the same time will be based on the size of the room to ensure students and staff can maintain social distancing.
In accordance with ISBE’s guidance, anyone over the age of two is required to wear a face covering on school grounds. The district has purchased three reusable face coverings for all students and staff and will distribute disposable masks for emergency use.
Every school will have face masks for all staff members. Staff members who provide personal, one-on-one support for students will receive a face shield. A face shield must be worn in addition to a mask.
Students with certain medical conditions can apply for a mask exemption.
Parents may supply their child with their own cloth face coverings as long as they cover the child's nose and mouth and have at least two layers.
Face shields are not acceptable for students unless they have a documented medical reason that is approved by the district.
The district will provide guidance to staff on how to help students adhere to health protocols.
All schools will have disposable face-coverings for emergencies in which students forget their face coverings at home.
Pods are assigned to designated bathrooms and will be cleaned frequently throughout the day. Schools must remind students to wash their hands thoroughly and often and use hand sanitizer anytime they return to their classroom.
In addition to signage and public awareness campaigns that will help all students understand when and how to properly wash their hands and use hand sanitizer, schools will teach health protocols to students directly.
Based on recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Environmental Protection Agency, we will enhance nightly cleaning and develop a COVID-19 breakout plan with a trained response team. Full cleaning activities will be scheduled daily (versus once a week like pre-COVID-19), and spot cleaning will be performed as needed throughout the day. We’re hiring nearly 400 additional custodians to help carry out these stringent cleaning and disinfection protocols every day.
To ensure the safest possible learning environments, we’ve purchased more than 1.2 million reusable cloth face masks to support every student and staff member, 42,000 hand sanitizer dispensers, more than 40,000 containers of disinfectant wipes, 22,000 infrared touchless thermometers, hospital-grade disinfectant sprayers, and additional PPE for specialty roles.
Staff will conduct enhanced cleaning on an hourly basis. High-touch areas will be wiped down throughout the day and as needed.
Pre-K and cluster rooms will undergo enhanced cleaning on an hourly basis.
Textbooks and other shared resources can either be assigned to individual students or be wiped down with a disinfectant between uses. Students should use their own materials whenever possible.
Per guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Chicago Department of Public Health, school community members who have tested positive for COVID-19 may not return to school until at least 10 days since symptoms first appeared and at least 24 hours with no fever without fever-reducing medication and improved symptoms.
School community members who did not have direct contact with the person who is sick (i.e., were six feet apart from the individual with COVID-19 and spent less than 15 consecutive minutes with them) can return to school immediately after disinfection of the relevant space.
Those who had direct contact with someone with COVID-19 (i.e., were within six feet of the person with COVID-19 for 15 consecutive minutes or more) will be expected to quarantine at home and monitor their symptoms for 14 calendar days from the last time they were in direct contact with the ill person.
If a student arrives at school exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms, or begins to exhibit symptoms during the day, they will be moved to the school’s designated Care Room to wait until they are picked up by a parent or guardian. Parents and guardians will be expected to pick up their child within one hour of being notified that their child is sick.
If a student takes the bus and arrives at school sick, or becomes sick during the school day, the school will contact a parent or legal guardian to come and pick up the student. If a parent or legal guardian cannot be reached, the school must exhaust the list of contacts on the student's emergency contact form until an adult is reached and comes to pick up the sick student. Students will not be allowed to return home unaccompanied.
The student will remain in the building, socially distant from others, until a parent or guardian picks them up. The district is developing a push notification system to remind parents which days their student is scheduled for in-person instruction.
No. Only close contacts would need to quarantine for 14 days. Close contact means being less than six feet apart from the individual who tested positive for more than 15 minutes.
Should a student or staff member get sick, a trained custodial response team will disinfect the area in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and will use cleaning and disinfecting products approved by the Environmental Protection Agency. They will wear PPE where appropriate and close off the affected areas for 24 hours to allow for proper ventilation and viral load reduction.
Students and staff will need to quarantine for 14 days if they test positive for COVID-19, but current public health guidance does not require retesting for clearance of COVID-19 and returning to school. However, students and staff should remain at home if they are still sick or show any symptoms.
As CPS has done since the first cases were recorded in Chicago, CPS will notify school communities—including parents and staff—of COVID-19 cases, and whether or not their child had direct contact with the sick person.
No. CDPH does not recommend regular testing because it does not guarantee future wellness. However, the district’s screener will cover both symptoms and risks for exposure to help students and staff determine if they should be tested.
The amount of PPE the district will distribute to schools is based on the number of students and adults at each school, and sizing and type of PPE will be age- and position-appropriate.
The district will work with schools to identify auxiliary spaces that can be used for teaching in order to ensure students and staff can practice proper social distancing.
No. In restrooms, every other handwashing station will be closed in order to allow individuals to stay six feet apart. The district is currently looking at potential options for bringing more handwashing stations to schools.
The hybrid model will follow the same time requirements as a typical year.
CPS is using the district's regular grading policies, with students earning letter grades based on standards mastery.
The district does not expect to alter the calendar because of the hybrid model. As it stands, all students should have access to approximately the same number of in-person instructional days.
Pods are small, designated groups of approximately 15 students (i.e., a socially-distanced classroom) who attend in-person instruction and activities together.
Pods minimize interactions between students and staff and reduce the potential for spread of COVID-19. Pods also allow for more efficient contact tracing—if a COVID-19 case is identified, only that person’s pod may need to be quarantined instead of the entire school. This hybrid learning plan is designed to adapt to changing public health conditions and allow an easy transition to full at-home learning or full at-school learning should public health conditions change.
Each pod will contain approximately 15 students, depending on the physical size of each classroom. To ensure social distancing requirements are followed, principals will use a planning tool that will enable them to determine the size of each classroom’s pod based on the square footage available.
Students and teachers will wear masks and socially distance during instruction. Students will remain in their assigned pod throughout the day and additional teachers may rotate across pods to provide instruction across multiple subjects and breaks for classroom teachers.
No. If a student in pod A contracts COVID-19, their teacher and classmates in pod A have had first-degree exposure and need to quarantine and monitor their symptoms for 14 days—even if they test negative for COVID-19. Any person who had contact with someone in pod A, but not the person with COVID-19 themselves, is classified as second-degree exposures and does not need to be quarantined. All quarantine procedures will be communicated to families if and when exposure occurs. However, anyone who is sick should stay home.
Having all students learn at home on Wednesdays allows for more enhanced cleaning and creates a standardized schedule across the district.
Students will access assignments through Google Classroom.
Families will have the opportunity to switch between learning models at set intervals during the year (e.g., a new quarter) to minimize scheduling changes. These intervals will be shared clearly with parents.
Pods will be created so that students can maintain their regular schedules as much as possible. Typically, schools will effectively split each classroom in half to allow for social distancing. Teachers will rotate across a limited number of pods.
The district will work with each principal to build out schedules that meet their school’s unique needs and allow for as many classes to be offered in-person as possible.
Schools will be provided with sample schedules to help support their scheduling efforts. Additionally, Central Office support will be provided upon request.
The district’s arrival and dismissal guidance will help schools design appropriate plans for students.
Based on ISBE requirements, all schools are still required to schedule and conduct all emergency drills. Schools should prioritize following all social distancing guidelines during these drills.
The district is unable to manage this alignment centrally, but principals are encouraged to work together to accommodate families in this situation as much as possible.
If schools have the space and staffing available to bring students back for additional in-person instruction, they will be asked to prioritize diverse learners for daily in-person learning instead of the two-days-per-week shift schedule. All scheduling decisions for diverse learners will be made in accordance with the student’s IEP and be approved by the school’s network chief.
If schools have the space and staffing available to bring students back for additional in-person instruction, they will be asked to prioritize diverse learners. All scheduling decisions for diverse learners will be made in accordance with the student’s IEP. These decisions will be made with the support of scheduling tools provided to school leaders this summer and will be approved by network chiefs prior to the first day of school.
For students with a hearing impairment, remote instruction has been shown to provide the clearest communication because educators do not have to wear face masks when teaching virtually and can use closed captioning as a supplemental aid. If remote learning is not an option, clear masks will be provided for all classroom support staff and their classmates.
If schools have the space and staffing available to bring students back for additional in-person instruction, they will be asked to prioritize English learners for daily in-person learning. All scheduling decisions will ensure English learners have access to bilingual education services. These decisions will be made with the support of scheduling tools provided to school leaders and will be approved by network chiefs.
Pre-k students whose guardians select the learn-at-school model will learn- at- school every day, including Wednesdays.
The district will provide schools with protocols for cleaning toys and manipulatives on a regular basis. It is also recommended that schools use a portion of their early childhood education budget to purchase additional high-touch items so that they can be assigned to individual students when possible.
Diverse learners should learn in the least restrictive environment according to their IEP. Inclusion services will continue to be provided while maintaining social distancing. Schools should prioritize selecting a location for resource classrooms that ensures transitions are as quick and infrequent as possible for students to access the appropriate instructional model. Resource teachers should also serve classrooms that are in close proximity whenever possible.
IEP meetings will be held in-person if social distancing and other health guidelines are able to be followed. If health guidelines cannot be followed due to space or occupancy limitations, meetings will need to be held virtually.
The district will ensure cafeterias are rearranged appropriately (e.g., removing tables) and develop recommendations for scheduling meal times. Each school’s nutrition operations specialist and food service director will support with making plans for mealtimes.
Students will eat breakfast and lunch with their pods in their classrooms or in the lunchroom at staggered times. Lunchrooms will be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected between uses.
The district is working to develop three models to offer hot and cold lunch options:
No, but they will need to stay socially distant from each other.
Students will be able to attend programming with additional health precautions. Schools will maintain existing student pods or form additional, fixed pods specifically for after-school programs. Virtual after-school programming is encouraged in order to minimize the need for additional pods.
The CPS Crisis Team will be available to support school communities in the event of severe sickness or death. This support includes collaborating with the school staff to develop school support plans and ensure clinical and emotional support for the school community.
Yes. The Board approved 400 additional custodial positions and 55 additional nurse positions for SY21, and the district is working to recruit as many of these positions as possible.
Every school has a nurse assigned to them for support. However, current staffing models do not ensure a full-time nurse in every school.
Schools can allow small groups of teachers to organize in-person planning or professional development, but it is recommended that teachers only interact in-person with other teachers who will work with the same pods of students as them. Per state guidelines, under no circumstances can any sessions or meetings at schools exceed 50 people. Cross-school professional development must be virtual.
Please refer to the district’s guidance for principals on substitutes.
Buses will be in service when schools reopen. Students will be required to use hand sanitizer before they board, wear masks while they ride, and follow ISBE social distancing guidelines (no more than 50 students per bus; students will sit alone or with a member of their household). Bus aides will be required to wear appropriate PPE.
If a student takes the bus and arrives at school sick, or becomes sick during the school day, the school must contact a parent or legal guardian to come and pick up the student.
Buses will be cleaned after each run.
Buses will be pulled out of service, cleaned, and disinfected if anyone riding contracts COVID-19.
If a bus drops students off early, principals will determine a designated area where students can maintain social distancing while waiting for school to start. Possible options include the lunchroom, auditorium, or designated classrooms.
Some bus routes may have students from multiple schools, but the district will try to limit these routes as much as possible.
CPS is working with the CTA and the city to ensure students are aware and compliant with social distancing and wear masks on CTA buses and trains and throughout the city.
COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. Symptoms include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. At this time, there is no vaccine to protect against COVID-19 and no medications approved to treat it. The best way to prevent infection is to take everyday preventive actions, like wearing a cloth face covering, practicing social distancing, avoiding close contact with people who are sick, and washing your hands often.
Those at higher risk include:
CPS will be sending out regular updates on COVID-19 and will notify the district as this situation develops. For communication purposes, please ensure the district has your up-to-date emergency contact information. For the most reliable information about COVID-19, please visit chicago.gov/coronavirus or cdc.gov/coronavirus. For district-specific updates, visit cps.edu/coronavirus.
The Chicago Department of Health has established a call center to address questions from the public at email@example.com or 312-746-4835. Phone lines are currently staffed from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m every day. Please note that this call center can not access COVID-19 testing results. For testing inquiries or results, please contact your healthcare provider.
If you have any CPS-specific or school-related concerns, please reach out to the CPS Command Center by calling the Healthy CPS Hotline 773-553-KIDS (5437) (staffed from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday) or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you need help locating medical care, please reach out to the CPS Office of Student Health and Wellness at email@example.com or by calling the Healthy CPS Hotline 773-553-KIDS (5437).
Bullying, harrassment, and discrimination are always unacceptable. COVID-19 does not distinguish between race, nationality, or geographic borders. Stigma and discrimination against people who have the virus or who have family members with the virus discourages early reporting of symptoms and further perpetuates community spread.
If you are experiencing increased stress related to the COVID-19, please contact our Employee Assistance Program (EAP) at 1-800-424-4776 or visit magellanascend.com. If you need assistance locating a primary care provider (PCP), please contact BCBSIL at bcbsil.com/members or 1-800-331-8032. Blue Cross Blue Shield and CVS Caremark have made some modifications to their policies to ensure members can easily access the right care and prescriptions. If you participate in these plans, please click here for more information.