Chicago Public Schools officials are looking to hold classes on Veterans Day this November to make up for a school day lost to a new law that makes Election Day a state holiday.
The swap of the two holidays will be proposed to the Chicago Board of Education at its monthly meeting Wednesday for a vote to approve a revised 2019-2020 school year schedule.
If the change is made, Veterans Day would still be a district holiday but would be added to a list of holidays the district is allowed to use for classes, parent-teacher conferences or teacher institute days. Others on the list include the recently renamed Indigenous Peoples Day, Casimir Pulaski Day and President Abraham Lincoln’s birthday.
CPS officials said schools would still recognize Veterans Day using instructional materials during remote classes, as required by the Illinois School Code for districts holding classes on any of those exempted holidays.
“The district will encourage honoring veterans on both November 3, 2020 ... and will honor veterans on November 11, 2020, with a moment of silence and lessons on veterans,” the district said in its proposal.
The proposed change is prompted by Gov. J.B. Pritzker signing legislation in June that, among other election initiatives, made Election Day a state holiday and prohibiting K-12 schools from opening other than as polling locations. CPS had released its calendar for the new school year in February.
The board held a public hearing to discuss the potential change Wednesday morning ahead of the regular board meeting. The scarcely publicized hearing drew no public speakers and lasted 13 minutes.
Board member Dwayne Truss questioned whether schools leadership had consulted veterans groups on the switch.
Adrian Segura, the official who leads CPS’ community engagement efforts, said he spoke with the head of the district’s ROTC program, who would help develop the veterans-centric instruction material, but had consulted no outside groups. He added that “one of the things that’s worth noting here is that when the General Assembly made Election Day a holiday, we’re pretty limited in the days that we can look to to replace.”
A disappointed Truss said he understood the calendar circumstances but would have liked for the district to have at least one veterans group weigh in because “we at least owe those who served the courtesy of reaching out and making sure that they understand that we value their service to this country.”
“This is something many of them feel strongly about, especially for those who served,” Truss said. “And that’s the kind of engagement I believe should have happened. Not just with the one individual who works for CPS, but then other groups to let them know that their voices matter, and at the same time it’s kind of a sign of respect that we appreciate their service to this country.”
The board is set to vote on the change later Wednesday.
The school system, the nation’s third largest, is holding classes remotely through early November because of the coronavirus pandemic.