CPS School Closure Memos

Dear CPS Parents, Families, and Staff,

 

This past month has been an unprecedented challenge for all of us. As difficult as it has been to see our normal lives put on pause, we are incredibly proud of our CPS family and how you have moved to protect the health of our city. Today, Governor Pritzker announced that the state-wide mandated school closures will be extended through April 30.

 

As hard as this is, it is what we need to do in order to keep our city safe, and we promise that we are working diligently to support our students, families, and staff members through these closures.

 

Important Reminders

 

Healthy meals are available to our students.

 

Since our schools closed, over 2.1 million free grab-and-go meals have been provided to CPS families. Families can continue to pick up grab-and-go meals at their neighborhood CPS school from 9 a.m.–1 p.m. Monday through Friday.

 

Remote learning will begin on April 13, 2020.

 

Earlier this week, we announced our Pre-K–12 remote learning plan to keep our students engaged, learning, and connected to their school community during the closure.

  • Remote learning assignments and activities will only improve student grades. Our aim is to increase learning, not to negatively impact our students during school closures.
  • The district will be distributing more than 100,000 devices to help narrow the digital divide during this period.
  • Please visit cps.edu/remotelearning, to learn more.

 

You can take crucial actions every day to help protect yourself and your community.

 

 

If you need help locating medical care, please reach out to the CPS Office of Student Health and Wellness at oshw@cps.edu or by calling the CPS Command Center at 773-553-KIDS (5437).

 

We will get through this together.

 

Sincerely,

 

Janice K. Jackson, EdD
Chief Executive Officer
Chicago Public Schools

 

LaTanya D. McDade
Chief Education Officer
Chicago Public Schools

Dear CPS Families and Supporters,

 

Today, the district is announcing a Pre-K–12 remote learning plan as part of our response to the COVID-19 public health emergency. While this plan will not replace the classroom learning experience or completely bridge the digital divide that exists in our city, it is a full-throttle effort from the district to empower our educators and provide them with the resources they need to engage students in high-quality learning opportunities while schools are closed.

 

This plan is not a one-size-fits-all approach—every school community is different, and each school will be notifying families of their plans by April 6, and in alignment with new guidance from the Illinois State Board of Education, remote learning plans will begin April 13, following our scheduled spring break. A “Remote Learning for Parents” document will be available later today at www.cps.edu/remotelearning.

 

Remote learning will only improve a student’s academic standing.

 

Students will be offered both digital and non-digital learning options, as well as dedicated “office hours,” where students and families can receive support from teachers via Google Meet, phone, or email. While students are expected to complete assignments and schools are able to grade work, grades will be counted only if they improve a student’s grade and will not negatively impact any student’s academic standing. Students who do not engage in academic work can be issued an incomplete and will be expected to make up incomplete assignments following the remote learning period.

 

The district will be distributing more than 100,000 devices to narrow the digital divide.

 

We recognize that a significant digital divide exists in our city and throughout the country, and schools will ensure that families who lack access to technology can utilize printed materials that will be created by the district. And while we are taking steps to help ensure instructional resources exist in a variety of formats, we are also taking seriously our responsibility to help narrow that digital divide. Utilizing socioeconomic data and hardship indicators, and working in close collaboration with our school principals, the district will be distributing 65,000 school-based Chromebooks, laptops and iPads; 37,000 new devices; and additional devices through potential philanthropic contributions. In total, we will distribute more than 100,000 devices to families in the weeks ahead to ensure our students have significantly more access to electronic learning resources.

 

Remote learning will begin Monday, April 13 and remain in place until schools reopen—which is currently scheduled for Tuesday, April 21. However, should the need arise, we designed our remote learning plan to support our students’ academic progress if the closure is extended further.

 

The road ahead is uncharted territory for all of us, but we could not ask for a more dedicated and talented group of educators to stand beside as we blaze this new trail. We are fully prepared to support our principals and educators as they make plans to educate our students remotely, and we are confident our remote learning plan provides the framework and tools for our teachers to succeed.

 

Schools will share detailed information about their remote learning plans with families prior to the start of spring break on Monday, April 6. In the meantime, enrichment resources for students are available at www.cps.edu/remotelearning. CPS will update these resources every two weeks.

 

We want to thank everyone for their patience as we flesh out our response to this public health emergency, and we promise to continue updating all CPS stakeholders as decisions are made and new resources become available. There are many outstanding questions left to be addressed including graduation, college entry, grade promotion, and admission to selective-enrollment schools.

Our commitment to you is that we will be transparent and continue providing regular updates.

 

We thank you for your continued support during this challenging time and hope all in our CPS community remain healthy and safe. Please remember to stay at home and practice social distancing whenever you are out. This is how we will achieve what we all want, which is to slow the spread of COVID-19 and see our students and staff return to school as quickly as possible.

 

Sincerely,

 

Janice K. Jackson, EdD
Chief Executive Officer
Chicago Public Schools

 

LaTanya D. McDade
Chief Education Officer
Chicago Public Schools

Dear CPS Community,

 

We hope you and your families are doing well. During these uncertain times, it’s critically important that we all come together to support each other. We ask that you consider giving just a little more of yourself to your fellow Chicagoans. It’s these moments of give and take that will strengthen the bonds of our community.

To that end, today we are asking for your support in three vital ways:

 

  1. Volunteer to work with the children of Chicago’s First Responders. While first responders, healthcare professionals, and other essential personnel work on the frontlines during the fight against the spread of COVID-19, their families are in dire need of child care during this unprecedented time.

    You can help by volunteering to provide child care for the family of one of these workers keeping our city going through Sittercity’s “Chicago Responds” program. Launched in partnership with the City of Chicago, the “Chicago Responds” program will connect members of the public and public-sector employees like yourselves with first responders who are looking for volunteers to provide sitter services in their homes. The program will also give all Chicago parents working as first responders free access to Sittercity Premium. Please consider donating your time to these local heroes and their families by signing up at www.sittercity.com/chicagoresponds.

    If you are a licensed medical professional, please consider volunteering with the Illinois Medical Reserve Corps. Please help Illinois provide the surge capacity needed for public health emergencies. Additionally, volunteers of all backgrounds are welcomed and are encouraged to register. There will be a need for volunteers with all types of skills and expertise, such as those who are skilled in: interpretation (languages and hearing impaired); administration; transportation training; provision of daycare, IT and security services. Learn more at www.illinoishelps.net/

  2. Share information with essential workers on how to secure reliable, safe childcare during the school closure period. If you or someone you know are an essential worker in need of childcare during the school closure period, please consider using or sharing information on Chicago’s Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies helpline.

    A dedicated helpline has been created so Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies (CCR&Rs) can help connect essential worker families to emergency child care. Call toll-free (888) 228-1146. The helpline will be available from 9:00 AM - 3:00 PM Monday through Friday to answer calls, but callers will be able to leave a message 24 hours a day.

  3. Follow the statewide Stay at Home order to slow the spread of COVID-19. Under Governor Pritzker’s Stay at Home order, all Illinois residents have been asked to stay home except for essential needs and to maintain at least six feet of distance from others at all times. Earlier today, Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot implemented additional measures to help slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic through social distancing, including immediately closing the city’s Lakefront, Riverwalk, 606 trail, and all adjacent parks.

    Please note that outside of food distribution, all CPS schools and playgrounds are closed to the public. The playgrounds in particular pose a high risk for transmission and it is critically important that we take these measures seriously and do our part to keep ourselves and our communities healthy.

We thank you for your support of our first responder families and everyone throughout the city of Chicago. This is an unprecedented challenge for all of us, and our team is committed to supporting you however we can. We will continue to keep you updated, and we look forward to welcoming you back to your schools as soon as possible.

 

Janice K. Jackson, EdD
Chief Executive Officer
Chicago Public Schools

 

LaTanya D. McDade
Chief Education Officer
Chicago Public Schools

Dear CPS Parents, Families, and Staff,

 

We are writing today to provide you with the latest updates on Chicago Public Schools’ (CPS’) response to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). As you know, the situation is changing quickly, and the public health response is evolving, too.

 

During the early phase of the COVID-19 pandemic in Chicago, the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) was focused most on containing the spread of COVID-19. These efforts meant identifying suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Chicago, finding and interviewing all direct contacts, and monitoring those contacts for the 14-day quarantine period. As the virus has moved into the community spread phase, CDPH is adapting its response to best keep our communities safe.

 

CDPH will continue to notify CPS if they learn of students or staff who test positive for COVID-19.

 

Upon verification from CDPH that a student or staff member has tested positive for COVID-19, CPS will notify and advise schools about the next steps, as appropriate, following the guidance of CDPH. Persons believed to have had close contact with verified cases will be advised in a manner consistent with the most up-to-date guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Starting March 31, 14 days after schools were closed, CPS will no longer notify school communities to self-quarantine if a member of their school community tests positive, with the exception of emergency personnel who continue to diligently work in our schools. School-wide notifications are no longer necessary following the 14-day window because there is no longer a risk that transmission occurred while school was in session.

 

Help fight the spread of rumors and protect the privacy rights of our community.

 

Despite our fears, we cannot abandon our commitment to treating others with respect and dignity, nor can we violate others’ privacy or protected health information. Sharing unconfirmed information about those who have tested positive for COVID-19 will not contain the spread of the virus, but it can potentially hurt community members by isolating and stigmatizing them. Discrimination and stigma will make the pain that this pandemic has caused even worse. It is everyone’s responsibility to protect personal health information during the COVID-19 health crisis.

 

It is important to note that each person has the right to control their own personal health information, and the district cannot require employees, students, or their families to disclose.

 

We are committed to supporting each of our school communities through this pandemic, and we will continue to send regular updates about the district’s response and how we are working to keep our students and staff members healthy and safe. Please stay up to date on the actions we all can take to help minimize the spread of COVID-19 using trusted sources (e.g., the CDC, the CDPH, and CPS).

 

We are here for you. Contact OSHW at oshw@cps.edu or 773-553-KIDS (5437) if you need help locating medical care or have questions.

 

We want to acknowledge that our world seems to change in the blink of an eye. Uncertainties raise so many questions. We ask that you take care of yourselves and each other. Physical distances may be necessary to minimize our risk, but social cohesion and emotional closeness will keep us well.

 

Sincerely,

 

Kenneth Fox, MD
Chief Health Officer
Chicago Public Schools

 

Allison Arwady, MD
Commissioner
Chicago Department of Public Health

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Diverse Learner Supports and Services during COVID-19 School Closures

Updated March 22, 2020


During the state-mandated school closures in response to COVID-19, the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) Office of Diverse Learner Supports and Services (ODLSS) is following the special education guidance issued by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) and the United States Department of Education. For the most up-to-date information regarding the district’s response to COVID-19, visit: cps.edu/coronavirus.


My child had an IEP meeting scheduled during the school closure period. Can this meeting still be conducted?

  • While in-person meetings are not possible due to necessary health precautions, scheduled IEP meetings can continue during the school closure period through alternate means of communication, such as teleconference or videoconference. 
  • If it is not possible to hold scheduled IEP meetings through these alternate means of communication, meetings can be rescheduled as needed. Parents are encouraged to contact their child’s principal for more information on how to reach their school’s case manager.
  • To the greatest extent possible, CPS will comply with federal and state law as it applies to timeline requirements during the school closure period. 
  • For the most up-to-date procedural manuals, please review the ODLSS IEP manual or 504 manual.

What procedures should IEP teams follow in order to conduct virtual meetings?

  • In order to hold teleconference or videoconference IEP meetings, the IEP team must follow all federal and state guidelines for notifying parents and guardians and obtain parent or guardian consent. CPS is currently exploring ways for parents and guardians to provide consent electronically while schools are closed. 
  • If a parent or guardian consents to holding a virtual IEP meeting, they must also consent to receive documentation electronically by completing an IEP Document Email Authorization Form in either English or Spanish.  
    • With parent or guardian consent, the IEP team can provide the following electronic documents: Notice of Conference, Evaluation Reports (including draft and final copies of the Learning Environment Interventions Form), IEP Documents (including data collection forms), and IEP Progress Reports and Report Cards. 
  • All IEP team members must be present at any IEP meeting, even if held by alternate means, unless the parent or guardian and the district representative give consent for the excusal of any member from the meeting. Due to the current school closures, consent to excuse an IEP team member can be given electronically. The case manager will document the appropriate consent using the SSM events and IEP notes sections.

What technology should IEP teams use for virtual meetings and electronic communication?

IEP team members are encouraged to use Google Hangouts via phone or computer to communicate with the rest of the IEP team, and CPS staff members can create and send meeting invitations to the other IEP team members. CPS is exploring additional technology solutions to facilitate IEP meetings in a way that meets our acceptable use policy.


How will the school closures impact IEP timeline requirements?

To the greatest extent possible, IEP teams should continue to comply with federal and state law as it applies to timeline requirements for IEP meetings or evaluations during the school closure period. ISBE has not yet released guidance regarding extending yearly timelines for annual IEP evaluations and reevaluations, therefore, the district cannot yet determine whether or not extensions can be provided. Please reference the ODLSS IEP manual or ODLSS 504 manual for more information.


Will schools be allowed to facilitate IEP meetings discussing student placement within cluster programs, speciality schools, transition programs, or therapeutic day school?

Yes. IEP teams will continue to comply with federal and state law for all educational environment decisions and discuss placement considerations. 


How can I request an IEP meeting for my child while schools are closed?

Please email your child’s principal with a written request for an IEP meeting, and schools will respond within 10 calendar days.


Can I request an IEP evaluation for my child while schools are closed?

While you are able to submit a written request for an IEP evaluation to your school’s administrator and case manager while schools are closed, your school will not be able to respond to this request until schools re-open. Once students return to school, the school will determine whether to move forward with the IEP evaluation within 14 school days. .


How are timelines for early intervention, early childhood transition, due process, complaint investigations, and mediation timelines impacted by school closures?

CPS is continuing to take all reasonable steps to continue with due process, complaint investigations, and mediation using alternate means of communication. The district is currently exploring options to support this process using alternate means of communication. For more information, please contact ODLSS via odlss@cps.edu or visit the ODLSS website.


To the greatest extent possible, CPS will continue to ensure that any child transitioning from an early intervention program has either an IEP or continued Individualized Family Service Plan in effect on the child’s third birthday. CPS is also working to ensure that teams are able to comply with the timely child find requirement.


Because in-person evaluations are not currently an option due to necessary health precautions, CPS is exploring additional assessment options, such as parent interviews, childcare provider interviews, parent rating scales, and review of early intervention reports.


What are the district’s educational obligations for special education students while schools are closed?

CPS is committed to ensuring that every student remains engaged throughout the school closure period and will continue to provide students with learning resources, such as grade level resource packets and activities and ISBE’s resource library.


Will my child’s clinician make up their minutes once school is back in session? 

The district is currently working through this question and will update families as soon as possible. 


Can my child work with their clinician during the statewide school closure?

CPS is currently exploring teletherapy and video therapy as two potential options and will update families as soon as the district receives further guidance from ISBE. 


My child attends a non-public option for special education services at a residential treatment facility or school within Illinois/state-run residential facility/out-of-state facility. Will these services remain open during the school closure period?

Facilities within Illinois with both a residential and education program focus are allowed to keep the residential program running as long as the facility retains the appropriate credentials. Out-of-state facilities will follow that state’s requirements regarding any school closures.


CPS will continue to support all residential placements. If you have questions about your child’s residential placement, please contact our ODLSS Residential Manager Ms. Nwosu at rrnwosu@cps.edu.


If you would like to receive updates from ODLSS, complete this form.

Dear CPS Parents, Families, and Staff,

 

Earlier today, Governor Pritzker issued a stay-at-home order starting Saturday, March 21 at 5 p.m. through April 7, 2020, and Mayor Lightfoot ordered all Chicago parks to close at close of business today and libraries to close at 12 p.m. tomorrow to slow the spread of COVID-19. We support the Governor’s decision to prioritize the health and wellbeing of everyone in our state. 

 

We understand that this decision will present additional challenges for our students and their families, and remain committed to leveraging the district’s resources to support families through this time. From meals to information, to enrichment activities to help keep students engaged, we will continue coming together to support each other as one district, one family. I want to thank all of our custodians, building engineers, school administrators, nutrition, Safe Passage, and security staff who have worked tirelessly so our schools could provide more than half a million meals to our families in need. We will continue to offer free packages of food that contain three days worth of meals for every child in a household between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. every weekday.

 

We also recognize that there remain many issues to resolve such as grade promotions, admissions to selective schools, and high school graduation. The district is working through these issues now and we are committed to updating families as soon as possible. 

 

The challenges we will face in the days ahead are unprecedented, but not insurmountable. We thank you for your patience and support and promise to keep you updated as the situation develops.

 

For the most reliable information regarding COVID-19, please visit www.chicago.gov/coronavirus or www.cdc.gov/coronavirus. For school-specific updates, visit www.cps.edu/coronavirus. If you need help locating medical care, please reach out to the CPS Office of Student Health & Wellness at oshw@cps.edu or by calling the Healthy CPS Hotline 773-553-KIDS (5437).

 

Sincerely,

 

Janice K. Jackson, EdD
Chief Executive Officer
Chicago Public Schools

Dear CPS Parents, Families, and Staff:

 

As Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot announced tonight, Chicago Public Schools will remain closed until Tuesday, April 21, 2020. While we want to reopen schools as soon as possible, this is a very serious challenge and we support the mayor’s decision to prioritize the health and wellbeing of our city. As the situation develops, we will continue to provide families with regular updates.

We recognize the significant impact the closures have had on every member of our school community, and we remain committed to doing all we can to support our students and families in the days ahead. Since the beginning of the closure, we have provided more than 90,000 packages of food to our families in need, and we will continue to offer free packages of food that contain three days worth of meals for every child in a household. Thanks to the incredibly dedicated staff who are supporting this effort in our schools, food can be picked up between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. every weekday. In addition to the amazing food service workers, thank you to our principals, assistant principals, and network staff for the support.

 

Due to the extended closure period, it is necessary for the district to reassess significant events on the school calendar and annual student and school assessment timelines and procedures. As a result of today’s decision, the district will seek a one-year waiver from the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) on the district’s School Quality Rating Policy (SQRP) and recommend to the Chicago Board of Education that we maintain the current SQRP ratings and carry them forward into next school year. Given the unprecedented situation, we are in, carrying over SQRP ratings is the best available and most fair option for our school communities.

 

In addition to the recommendation to carry over SQRP ratings, the district is also revising its assessment schedule based on the extended closure period. While the district continues to work through the long-term implications of the mayor’s decision, we are canceling end-of-year assessments including:

 

  • NWEA
  • STAR Assessment
  • REACH Performance Tasks

 

We are working closely with ISBE, City Colleges of Chicago, the College Board, and our other partners to understand how this closure will impact other assessments such as the Illinois Assessment of Readiness, PSAT/SAT, Dual Credit/Dual Enrollment courses, and Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate exams as well as graduation requirements and grade promotion. While changes to the assessment calendar will likely be necessary, we are committed to ensuring students can access critical assessments tied to college entry, selective enrollment admission, graduation, and grade promotion.

 

We recognize that this is not an exhaustive list of all of the academic opportunities and policies impacted by this closure, and as decisions are made by the state and federal government, we will continue to provide you updates in a timely manner.

 

To help support students and families while class is not in session, the district posted enrichment resources and materials at cps.edu/enrichmentresources and provided students with hard copies of these materials prior to the beginning of the closure.

Educators and parents can access these resources at cps.edu/enrichmentresources and build upon these materials as they see fit to keep children engaged through spring break. In the days ahead, we will be providing additional resources and guidance.

 

The challenges we face ahead are unprecedented but not insurmountable. We recognize there are a number of significant outstanding questions about our normal school policies and procedures, and we will provide updates and guidance as soon as possible. We will make it through this uncertain time together—as one district, one family.

 

Sincerely,

 

Janice K. Jackson, EdD
Chief Executive Officer
Chicago Public Schools

 

LaTanya D. McDade

Chief Education Officer
Chicago Public Schools

Dear Parents and Families,


Chicago Public Schools (CPS) is committed to keeping families informed, and we are writing to update you on the most current developments regarding the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). The Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) has recently alerted the district to a confirmed case of COVID-19 involving a member at Sheridan Math and Science Academy. 


Per CDPH guidance, Sheridan will be closed starting tomorrow, Monday, March 16 and will reopen when district schools reopen on Tuesday, March 31. We are asking anyone who was in Sheridan on March 9 to stay home effective immediately through Monday, March 23. Staff will be placed on a paid leave of absence, and student absences will be excused.


Following orders from the state, the district is preparing to close all schools beginning Tuesday, March 17 through Monday, March 30. We encourage families to stay home unless seeking medical care. In the event that schools do not reopen on March 30, we encourage you to bring home personal items from school and plan accordingly. 


Here are the latest updates.

School Building Access and Food Assistance for Families

  • Beginning on Tuesday, March 17, all school facilities will be closed for deep cleaning. Plan accordingly and bring any personal belongings you wish to have home. You will not be permitted to enter the building during the closure.

  • All CPS school sites will serve as food distribution sites for CPS students. Food pick-up will take place outside of the school building and begins at every school on Tuesday, March 17 and is scheduled from 9 a.m.–1 p.m. Monday through Friday. CPS families can pick-up three days worth of meals at time, each with two meals per child. If you need assistance, please call the CPS Command Center at 773-553-KIDS (5437) or email familyservices@cps.edu


Educational Enrichment

  • The CPS Office of Teaching and Learning will provide grade-level activity packets for PreK-12th grade that include non-digital and digital activities for students. A sample packet can be seen here. Principals and teachers can elect to print the grade-level packets, which will also be available for students and families at cps.edu/coronavirus.


Use of Digital Platforms

  • To ensure CPS is best protecting our students’ sensitive Personally Identifiable Information, such as their first and last name, date of birth, and other rostering information, we encourage schools to communicate with students and families only through CPS-approved products. However, if schools wish to suggest the use of non-approved web-based products, schools must duly inform parents.

Acceptable Use Policy

  • Administrators, teachers, and school staff are required to still adhere to the Acceptable Use Policy should they communicate with students in the event of full or partial school closure. Keep in mind the following  permitted and prohibited forms of communication:


Permitted

Prohibited

  • Email to student’s CPS email account

  • Messaging through CPS Group Messaging App, like Google Hangout, from an employee CPS account to a student CPS account*

  • Bulk texting to groups of students as long as parent/guardian provides prior written permission for their child to receive the texts and they can opt-in to receiving the same notifications as their child*

  • Communicating with students via social media if the account is used for instructional, educational or extracurricular programs, principal has provided written approval of the account, and parents are notified of the social media account and purpose

  • Communicating individually directly with a student through the student’s personal mobile device

  • Communicating via a student’s personal email account

  • Use of personal social media accounts to conduct CPS business or communication with students


For the most reliable information, please visit www.chicago.gov/coronavirus or www.cdc.gov/coronavirus. For school-specific updates, visit www.cps.edu/coronavirus. If you need help locating medical care, please reach out to the CPS Office of Student Health & Wellness at oshw@cps.edu or by calling the Healthy CPS Hotline 773-553-KIDS (5437).


The health and wellness of our students and staff are the district’s highest priority. We are working closely with local, state, and federal health officials to respond immediately to the situation, and we will provide regular updates as the situation develops.


Janice K. Jackson, EdD

Chief Executive Officer

Chicago Public Schools

Kenneth Fox, MD

Chief Health Officer

Chicago Public Schools

Digital Learning Resources
 
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www.brainpop.com click Log In, and enter the following username and password.
Username: chicagopublicschools
Password: cps123
 
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