Chicago, Ill. Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot, the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) and Chicago Public Schools (CPS) announced that the 2020-21 CPS school year will begin remotely on September 8. 

The decision to go remote was based on trends in public health data and survey results from parents which indicate that a large percentage of parents are not yet comfortable sending their children to school, said CPS, and as Chicago has seen an uptick in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks that has public health officials concerned about the implications for in-person learning. The district will implement remote learning through the first quarter and work with CDPH to determine if it is safe to open with a hybrid learning model in the second quarter, which begins on November 9.

“The decision to begin the 2020-2021 CPS school year remotely during the first quarter is rooted in public health data and the invaluable feedback we've received from parents and families,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “As we build out this remote learning model and seek 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.”

The district had committed to providing parents with an update about whether or not it would pursue a hybrid learning model by the end of August at the latest. Based on the feedback CPS has received from parents since the district’s preliminary reopening framework was released and due to public health trends in recent days, we are announcing the decision so schools and parents have as much time as possible to plan for the fall.

Enhanced Standards for Remote Learning and Digital Learning for All Students

In order to provide a more stable and high-quality remote learning experience for students, the district will be enacting new requirements for learning that go beyond ISBE guidance, including ensuring every K-12 teacher and student will be engaged for the entirety of the school day, with students receiving real-time instruction every day. Additionally, all students will have access to and participate in digital learning. Key improvements to remote learning include:

Learning Expectations:

  • Every K-12 student and teacher will be engaged for the entirety of a typical school day, with live instruction every school day.
  • Pre-k students will also receive live instruction, but given the unique needs of our youngest learners, more time and focus will be spent on small group interaction and parental support.

Transition to District-Wide Usage of Google Suites:

  • All schools will utilize Google education tools — including Google Classroom or Meet on a daily basis — to ensure the district can accurately track and support engagement.
  • Schools will also be able to use approved non-Google ed-tech tools that meet the district’s acceptable use policy, but teachers and students will be expected to log onto Google on a daily basis for a home-room style check-in and utilize Google for live video instruction.

Tracking Attendance and Grading:

  • To align with ISBE guidance and create learning environments that more closely align with a typical school year, the district will be transitioning back to our previous grading system where assignments will be graded and all students will receive letter grades.
  • In a shift from the spring, schools will also be taking classroom attendance to ensure every effort is being made to engage students. Schools will enact intervention systems to support students who do not participate in remote learning to help address underlying concerns and ensure students are being supported.