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Last day of school year for CPS brings mayor to South Loop Elementary

As Chicago Public Schools students prepare for summer break, South Loop Elementary School plans for the upcoming school year, which will be entirely in person.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot talks with students on her visit to South Loop Elementary School on Tuesday, June 22, 2021.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot talks with students on her visit to South Loop Elementary School on Tuesday.
Brian Rich/Sun-Times

One of the most recognizable faces in the city visited South Loop Elementary School on Tuesday for the last day of school year.

Well, maybe not recognizable to everyone.

“Do you know who I am?” Mayor Lori Lightfoot asked students on the playground of the school, 1212 S. Plymouth Court.

A group of kindergarteners responded with silence, though they eventually figured it out with some prompting from nearby grown-ups.

Older students, though, spotted the mayor, jumped off the swings and came running for a group photo with their famous guest.

“Happy last day,” Lightfoot told students on the playground and in the cafeteria, as she urged them to enjoy their summer.

While it was the students’ last day, their teachers will spend time during break preparing for the 2021-22 school year, which CPS plans to be almost entirely in person instead of remote, said Tara Shelton, South Loop’s principal.

Summer is typically spent getting ready for the next year, of course, but “this one is more special and unique because we need to prepare for the different varieties of students that are going to be returning and the different supports they may need,” Shelton said.

“A lot of our planning will be around trauma responsiveness, and getting support for our teachers to switch their thinking about instructional planning,” Shelton said.

While a majority of students will be in person, those with serious medical issues will continue to attend school online as a part of a virtual academy separated from the in-person classes, she said.

Over the past year of online learning, Shelton said she learned to be more empathetic toward individual students’ situations. This new focus will be a major part of planning for next year and figuring out how to return to a “new normal,” she said.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot greets students on the playground of South Loop Elementary School, 1212 S. Plymouth Ct., on Tuesday, June 22, 2021. She visited to mark the last day of the academic year for Chicago Public Schools.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot greets students on the playground of South Loop Elementary School, 1212 S. Plymouth Ct., on Tuesday. She visited to mark the last day of the academic year for Chicago Public Schools.
Brian Rich/Sun-Times