Parents, we’re pulling for you as the new school year looms
If you’re a parent of a Chicago Public Schools student, know this: We’re with you as Sept. 8 draws near.
We’re rooting for you as you and your children begin another few months — at least — of remote learning amid a pandemic. It’s going to be the trickiest of balancing acts for thousands of busy parents, like you, to once again juggle work, child care and overseeing a restless second-grader’s online lessons.
You’re no doubt hoping and praying that Chicago can rein in the coronavirus enough in the coming months so that your children can soon get back to real school. Maybe you’ve already circled Nov. 6 on the calendar, the day that CPS hopes to get a green light from public health experts to launch its hybrid learning model with in-person instruction two days a week for most students.
Getting students back to classes, even part-time, would be a huge step forward for kids. Because last spring, all of us, especially parents, saw firsthand how seriously remote learning falls short.
This time around, remote learning has got to be far better, from Day One.
CPS and the Chicago Teachers Union must pull out all the stops, put aside any petty disputes over the logistics of making it work, and go above and beyond to make sure that happens.
There’s no excuse for a repeat of last spring, when thousands of children failed to regularly log on to the district’s digital learning platform and hundreds of lowerincome children couldn’t go online at all because their families didn’t have WiFi or a computer.
CPS on Wednesday released its plan to provide a much more structured remote learning experience that, as much as possible, replicates real school: About four hours a day — fewer for young children, more for high school students — of live online lessons, plus smallgroup instruction or other learning activities for the remainder of the 7-hour school day.
Attendance will be taken, letter grades will once again be given out, and teachers will have to be available to students for a full school day.
Wealthy families across the country have the means to keep their children on a solid academic track. They’re pooling their money to hire experienced teachers to teach small groups of their children in so-called “pandemic pods.”
For families of more modest means, school districts must make remote learning work until a real “back to school” is possible.