CPS 2022-23 calendar keeps pre-Labor Day start, gives full week of vacation for Thanksgiving

The district is also allowing parents to vote on whether to start two weeks before Labor Day, which would be the earliest return in recent memory.

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Josiah Moore, 8, a 2nd grade student, skips as he arrives at Jordan Community Public School, 7414 N. Wolcott Ave., in Rogers Park on the North Side, Wednesday morning, Jan. 12, 2022. Students returned to in-person learning Wednesday after a week away while the Chicago Public Schools district and the Chicago Teachers Union negotiated stronger COVID-19 protections.

A student heads to Jordan Community Public School, 7414 N. Wolcott Ave., in Rogers Park, in January

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Chicago Public Schools are sticking with a pre-Labor Day start to the 2022-23 school year, even offering families a chance to vote on whether to resume classes two weeks before the holiday next fall in what would be the district’s earliest start in recent memory.

Until this year, the district had maintained a September return even as other Illinois districts moved their start dates earlier and earlier into August. The last time CPS tried an August start nearly a decade ago, it switched back to September the next year.

Officials are proposing two options for next year, with families’ votes playing some role in the district’s final decision.

Both calendars would start before Labor Day, including 176 days of instruction and hold no classes during the entire week of Thanksgiving — a departure from the usual three days off that holiday week. Winter and spring breaks would cover same the periods in both: Dec. 26-Jan. 6 and April 3-7.

One of the schedules would largely mirror this year’s, with classes starting Aug. 29 and ending June 14 and the first semester wrapping up in January after winter break.

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Parents are being asked to vote on two calendar options for 2022-23, including Option 1, which is similar to the current schedule.

CPS

The second option features more significant changes and would start and end a week earlier, running from Aug. 22 to June 7. First semester would be completed before winter break, though that would mean days and weeks are less evenly distributed over the four quarters of the school year. This calendar would align more closely with those of suburban districts and local colleges and universities.

“The new academic calendar will set the tone for the 2022-23 school year, so it is vital that our families play an active role in shaping it,” CPS CEO Pedro Martinez wrote in an email to families Thursday.

“These options both aim to start the year earlier, consolidate report card pick up, and continue to offer important staff professional development and collaboration time for our faculty and staff. We look forward to hearing from our families on these two calendar options.”

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The second option for 2022-23 would have the CPS year start two weeks before Labor Day, the earliest start in recent memory.

CPS

Officials said about 200 principals took part in surveys and focus groups to help shape the two options.

Parents and students have until 5 p.m. on Feb. 18 to fill out the survey. CPS will present its final calendar to the Board of Education at its March 23 meeting for approval.

CPS saw lower first day attendance than usual when it tried a pre-Labor Day start this year — 91.2% showed up compared to an average of 94.3% from 2016 to 2019 — though that also was likely related to the pandemic. The last time classes started before the holiday, the 2013-14 school year, about 93.5% went to school the first day.

Families have long appreciated the ability to wrap up summer plans and vacations before returning after the long Labor Day weekend, but the school year has dragged later into June. Classes didn’t end until June 22 last school year, the latest possible because Labor Day fell on Sept. 7.

Some parents and teachers have complained that the later start for CPS has also meant less preparation time for standardized tests, college admissions tests like the ACT and SAT as well as testing for Advanced Placement classes.

CPS may be late to the trend but it follows at least two dozen districts in Cook County — with dozens more in DuPage, Kane, Lake and Will — that have started bringing their kids back to the classroom by mid-August in recent years.

In 2004, only 16 of about 1,000 school districts statewide had teachers or students back by Aug. 14, according to records kept by the Illinois State Board of Education. By 2019, more than half of the state’s 910 districts saw teachers back or classes getting underway by that date.

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