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CPS principals group suggests piecemeal reopening of schools

The plan calls for staff at 50 to 100 schools that would be the first to reopen under the pilot program to be prioritized for vaccination.

Troy LaRaviere
Troy LaRaviere
Sun-Times file photo

An organization that represents Chicago Public Schools principals released a plan Wednesday calling for the trial reopening of some schools and the expansion of that number every few weeks if things go well.

Chicago Principals & Administrators Association President Troy LaRaviere called for the school district to reopen between 50 and 100 schools to in-person learning in a pilot program that would prioritize staff at those schools for COVID-19 vaccinations.

The plan calls for the school district to focus human and material resources on the schools to ensure success, LaRaviere said during a virtual news conference.

If successful, the number of schools in the program should be expanded every three or four weeks, he said.

LaRaviere called the plan a “simple and elegant” way forward.

Chicago Public Schools had planned to return thousands of kindergarten through eighth grade students to classrooms for in-person learning Monday. Those plans were ground to a halt due to pressure from the Chicago Teachers Union. The two sides are in negotiations.

LaRaviere said prioritizing staff at the selected schools for vaccination would incentivize teachers to want to take part in the pilot program, would help stabilize staffing issues, and allow the school district to address any problems at a smaller and more manageable scale.

LaRaviere said leaders at reopened schools would serve as guideposts and ambassadors to other schools as the program expands.

LaRaviere said he shared the plan with CPS leadership and the mayor’s office on Tuesday but has not gotten a response.

A CPS spokeswoman didn’t immediately return a request for comment.

“What we need is for them to take action, and if they don’t respond to a simple outreach, we have the tools that we may need in terms of creating the public pressure to get them to act,” LaRaviere said.

“In order for the district to adopt this approach, they have to come to grips with the fact that their current plan is unworkable.”