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Public schools in Chicago will start the school year virtually virtually

The decision could avoid a possible strike by the Chicago Teachers Union. The district will implement distance learning through the first quarter, which ends Nov. 9, and will then evaluate whether it is safe to open in a hybrid learning model.

“As a district, we value parental feedback and we cannot ignore the fact that a large proportion of parents have indicated that they do not feel comfortable sending their students to school according to a hybrid model for the beginning of the school year,” said CPS CEO Janice K. Jackson in a statement.

“I understand the insecurity this pandemic has caused our parents, especially color communities that have been disproportionately affected. We make every effort to provide a high quality distance learning experience during the fall and use live, virtual instruction for every student, every day, and we are committed in continuous engagement and communication with parents. “

The announcement comes a day after a source close to the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) told CNN that the CTU planned to convene its delegation houses early next week to discuss taking a strike vote to demand distance education for Chicago Public Schools.

The decision affects more than 355,000 students and seriously harms poor families and colors. About 76% of students are financially disadvantaged, and among all students, 36% are African American and 47% are Hispanic, according to Chicago Public Schools data.

Reversal of previous plan

Illinois has seen a steady rise in daily coronavirus cases over the past two months. The state̵
7;s seven-day average of new daily cases peaked at 1,500 this week as Covid-19 has spread across the country, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Chicago had previously hoped to start the school year with a hybrid learning model and had prepared a scenario to do so, but finally decided to do so.

“The decision to start the CPS school year 2020-2021 at a distance during the first quarter is rooted in information about public health and the invaluable feedback we have received from parents and families,” said Mayor Lori Lightfoot.

“As we build this distance learning model and try to establish a hybrid learning model in the second quarter, we will continue to support and collaborate with parents and school leaders to create safe, sustainable learning environments for our students,” said Lightfoot.

The public schools in New York, the country’s largest school system, plan to hold personal classes this fall, while the Los Angeles Unified School District, the country’s second largest system, will begin with virtual classes.
There have already been outbreaks among students and those who care for them around the country. On the first day of school in Canton, Georgia, for example, a second grader tested positive and sent the teacher and 20 other classmates to a two-week quarantine, the Cherokee County School District told CNN.
Nationally, about one in four teachers is at higher risk for serious illness if they get coronavirus, according to an analysis released last month.

CNN’s Eric Levenson contributed to this report.

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