For the second time this school year, Chicago families face an uncertain future as all schools close Tuesday — but this time it’s because of the coronavirus outbreak that has taken over life in the United States.
City and schools officials are making efforts to ease the burden on families in need, but Mayor Lori Lightfoot acknowledged Monday that it’s not yet clear whether school can resume at the end of Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s mandated two-week closure March 31.
“This is an incredibly fluid situation, which is an understatement,” Lightfoot told reporters after touring the district’s coronavirus command center. “I don’t want to get ahead of myself and predict what may be happening in April because as a matter of fact it’s hard for us to predict what’s going to happen one or two days in advance.”
Schools chief Janice Jackson and Lightfoot also indicated they may no longer publicly announce or inform school communities if someone at a school has a case of the coronavirus. Going forward, CDPH will interview any potential CPS patients and tell their close contacts that they tested positive. CPS will only inform the school community if CPDH recommends doing so. On Sunday, two new cases popped up at CPS schools, one at Sheridan Math and Science Academy and another at Mansueto High School, a Noble Network charter.
Jackson said teachers took the weekend to prepare educational “enrichment” materials and handed them out to students Monday. But creating an actual “e-learning” plan for the entire district to continue real instruction proved impossible, she said. And the state board of education has indicated no assignments should be graded during the closure, and student attendance on any virtual classroom resources should not be tracked.
“They should be doing it anyway, and there’s a lot of talk about learning for the sake of learning,” Jackson said. “So this is really an opportunity for people to apply that in their homes.”
Lightfoot, whose daughter Vivian attends Frances Xavier Warde Catholic Cathedral School, said she’ll be taking that approach when it comes to enforcing homework rules. “Unfortunately for Vivian Lightfoot, we’re going to be imposing that in our household,” the mayor said.
Daycare operators, meanwhile, have not been ordered to shut down by the governor, who left the decision open to individual daycares and said no facility would lose state funding if they opted to close.