Chicago Public Schools intends to reopen classrooms on Monday, but some educators worry that the content provided is not good for students.
Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Teachers’ Union are working to reach an agreement on the safe reopening of schools. On Monday, CPS leaders have begun face-to-face learning, beginning with up to 62,000 elementary school students. Members of the Chicago Teachers Union said that unless an agreement is reached, they will only conduct distance learning.
However, due to the high level of concern for safety, people's attention to the education they may receive after returning has decreased. Many principals, teachers and parents say that what is on the table is not good for students.
In the interview with WBEZ, they were worried that there were not enough adults to supervise all the returning children. They are also worried that the transition from all distance learning means less teaching time for students compared to the current distance learning. Some people say that their school does not have Internet bandwidth to keep all students in touch with their teachers.
CPS leaders insisted that the school was to complete the mission and emphasized that the principals said they were ready. District officials said that they have been planning for several months. Starting from January 11, they have successfully brought 3,200 preschool and special education students back to part-time classrooms. The personal guidance for these students was suspended on Wednesday, when the CTU members collectively refused. Back to the classroom.
CPS CEO Janice Jackson said this week: "We feel very strong and we are very committed to getting students back to school." "We believe we can do it. Before we rely on our plan. Now. , We already have data for nearly three weeks, showing that our students have successfully reopened in pre-kindergarten and [special education] cluster courses throughout K State."
Many parents are happy that their children are back. They say this brings ordinary taste to the family and gives children more opportunities to structure and socialize-stay away from the screen.
Some parents and teachers say that on a smaller scale, the hybrid model of CPS (which can be used in the classroom for two days) can work. But they said that driving thousands of elementary school students is a completely different story.
As many as 62,000 elementary school students and as many as 5,200 pre-kindergarten and special education students may return on Monday, accounting for 32% of the 208,000 students who chose to return. The vast majority of students will continue to study remotely. It is expected that most teachers will teach two groups of students both in person and remotely.
The principals interviewed by WBEZ this week said they stayed up late, trying to figure out how to ensure that students are properly supervised. This is because employees have medically impaired family members at home, so they are still waiting to hear about their requirements for the school district to work from home.
The school district has opened 2,000 positions, some of which are used to fill gaps that allow teachers and employees to work from home. But a principal said he has two positions. But six employees will work from home. CPS has not yet provided data on how many of the 2,000 positions.
The principal said: "It is an impossible task at the same level of turning time back." One of many principals asked to remain anonymous because they expressed concern about public speaking. He said that the students in his school will basically study remotely at school and work on laptops in the classroom.
Teachers (many of whom also asked to remain anonymous) said they received mixed information from district officials. Sometimes they are told to work with ordinary students. Sometimes, they are told to teach in places other than certified to meet the needs of teachers working remotely, or to create pods with a balanced number of students.
Some principals said they think that bringing back students two days a week is not educational. They said that in the classroom, students will sit next to the computer, and their teacher will be far away, especially so.
"What's the point?" said a southwest principal, adding that his school simply does not have enough staff to cover all classrooms.
The parents said that at Newfield Elementary School on the north side, their school also needs help in staffing. About half of the students said they plan to come again, but a large number of teachers have obtained permission to work from home or pending requests.
"There is no room for error," Annie Gill-Bloyer, parent and chairperson of the Newfield Local School Council, said at this week's Board of Education meeting. "If only a few people report their work, then the entire house of cards will collapse. My concern is that with the right personnel, the program can be applied to face-to-face and remote students. We need help in staffing. "
Some school officials said that their schools do not have Internet capabilities and cannot connect students with remote classmates.
This prevents face-to-face students from participating in video chats or group discussions. For face-to-face students, it can be more difficult to sit together for group discussions.
“They have to sit six feet away and have a full discussion, the only way is through group discussions or yelling at each other in the classroom,” said Julian Connolly, a middle school teacher.
She said that her school has a large number of students learning English, and they need this kind of oral practice. "Generally speaking, all children are English learners. Therefore, children cannot practice expressing their thoughts and therefore must write them down. This fact makes them only say something because they may not be able to spell the word."
Several principals said they were told they would get a bandwidth upgrade in a few months. But this does not help now.
Jose Frausto is a computer science teacher at Tonti Elementary School. He said that in addition to teaching in person who feels unsafe, "teaching will be greatly reduced."
During distance learning, Frausto used a unique setting at home that included multiple screens. He can see all the students and can teach them up close. At school, he has to plug and unplug the device at least five times a day. “Sometimes he moves and teaches the next class within the next hour with zero minutes in between.
The principal also said that according to the new mixing schedule, learning time will be reduced. A principal told WBEZ that on Wednesday, that is, all students are on a distant day, there are only 3 hours of simultaneous learning instead of 3 hours and 45 minutes.
Cortney Ritsema, who has twins in New Field Elementary’s kindergarten, has seen a reduction in teaching. Before moving from distance learning to face-to-face learning, they spent an hour with the teacher every day. After implementing face-to-face learning, they only have 45 minutes.
Connolly, the teacher of the North Side Middle School, also said that the teaching time of the mixed mode will be reduced. She said that face-to-face classes will waste a lot of study time because the school will arrange logistical work such as entry and exit.
Potential upside? Many parents and teachers complain that the expected screen learning time during distance learning is too much.
The students' uncertainty about their own experience prompted some parents who initially chose to mentor themselves to change their minds.
Melinda Young, the parents of two of Skinner West’s students, said: “I have real concerns about their ability to execute.” “Combined with my understanding of how this day will happen, from a safety perspective, but also from an educational perspective. For me, this is not suitable for my child."
The frustrated parent alliance plans to conduct a "leave" on Monday to protest the quality of the reopening plan. Their children will not attend classes. At the same time, families who want to personally give family guidance to their children also speak out. They say that more and more students are suffering from depression and anxiety all day long.
Elizabeth Levey said at the Board of Education meeting last week: "My son is in kindergarten and he is happy to return to school." "I don't know (we will) tell him whether the school that will reopen next week is broken ."
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