Is re-opening on the table for public schools?

Alissa Hill, Staff Reporter

We have seen private and religious schools go back to school in some capacity with most using the hybrid-learning method. But what have the public schools in Illinois been planning in these recent days and weeks for their students?

Chicago public schools are in the process of trying to re-open but are receiving pushback from the Chicago teacher’s union. According to NBC 5 Chicago, “Negotiations between the Chicago Teachers Union and CPS remains ongoing, but in the meantime, CPS tells students who have been in-person learning are being asked to stay home Wednesday after the Chicago Teachers Union voted for teachers to switch to remote learning this week.”  CPS’s plan was to have K-8 and special need groups return to in-person learning, but many teachers worry over the safety precautions being set in place. Mayor Lori Lightfoot  still plans on reopening schools on Monday and Schools chief executive Janice Jackson has warned that if the union teachers refuse to come to school to teach in person by Monday, the district will consider that an illegal strike.  Now with CPS, Mayor Lightfoot, and the Chicago Teacher’s Union having such adamant opinions, one must wonder about the principals of these schools’ opinions on this matter. According to the Washington Post, “More than 80% of principals want to wait to reopen schools.” As it stands, Chicago’s public school’s plan is at a standstill that will not see any progress till the ultimatum comes to play.

Now the decision for the other public schools is seen to be shrouded in controversy. Some schools are struggling with whether or not to return to in-person learning. Evanston has tried reopening their public schools many times, but it keeps ending up being postponed which makes parents’ tensions rise since they want their children back in school.  While other public schools are having an easier time making the decision about re-opening. The Peoria public schools returned to hybrid learning on January 19 and seem to be succeeding in their reopening plan.  School District 203 has started hybrid learning according to NCTV17. District 300 returned to in-person learning on January 11.  U46 however is reopening the elementary school and the rest of the older students for hybrid learning. U46 returned to hybrid learning for elementary and pre-k on January 11 and 12.  U46 also re-opened 7th through 10th grades on Jan. 19 and grades 11 through 12 on Jan. 25th. While Stevenson Highschool started hybrid on January 19th and offered rapid Covid-19 testing for students. Most of the schools have details about their re-opening plans on their district website, but most details will be only sent by each school separately to parents and students.

So, for public schools, the decision to return to school or remain remote is divided in some places. In spite of this, though, some public schools have successfully returned to learning in person.