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Chicago Catholic schools will stick with in-person learning as CPS goes online for the fall

As Chicago Public Schools switches to remote learning for the fall, the Archdiocese of Chicago said it’s sticking to its plan to bring students back to classrooms this fall.

Archdiocese of Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich speaks with students and families during lunch at St. Genevieve Catholic School, 4854 W. Montana St., Thursday, Jan. 30, 2020.
Archdiocese of Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich speaks with students and families during lunch at St. Genevieve Catholic School, 4854 W. Montana St. earlier this year.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

As Chicago Public Schools change course for this fall, announcing Wednesday that the school year will begin with remote learning, the Archdiocese of Chicago Catholic Schools said it’s moving forward with its plan to return to the classroom next month.

In an email to families, Catholic Schools superintendent Jim Rigg said the archdiocese is committed to starting the school year with full-time in-person learning, saying it’s “in the best interests of children and our mission.”

Rigg called in-person learning “essential” for students to grow not only intellectually and emotionally but also in their faith.

Under the archdiocese’s current reopening plan, which was designed with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Chicago Department of Public Health along with other state health officials and infectious disease experts, everyone over the age of 2 inside the school will have to wear masks. Students will undergo daily wellness checks when they arrive at school. Those exams will include a temperature check and a series of questions.

The archdiocese is also adopting a “cohort” model for the upcoming school year. Students and staff will be grouped by their homeroom class and will remain with those same classmates throughout the day.

“Our reopening plan maximizes the safety of our students and employees while allowing the resumption of in-person learning,” Rigg said. “CDPH has recognized that our school system is different from CPS and supports our specific plan to reopen. If this guidance were to change, we would adjust our plan accordingly.”

For Catholic school students who are unable to return or whose parents are unwilling to send them to in-person classes, the archdiocese is also offering remote and online learning.

CPS’ initial proposal for this fall had students in the classroom for two days a week. But the district decided against that this week, citing the worsening public health conditions and parent concerns about in-person schooling amid the pandemic.

Chicago saw a 5% rise in cases over the last seven days compared to the week before, averaging 277 new infections each day.