Chicago principals say they were caught off guard by Friday’s announcement that some schools may offer in-person learning

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The announcement seemed to catch the principals off guard.

The district is on twitter In-person learning and activities may be available in “a handful of schools” on Thursday night and Friday. “Please do not plan to send your child to school unless you have been notified by your child’s principal,” the district said.

The Chicago Association of Principals and Administrators said the announcement caught it “by surprise.”

“Principals will not decide on the resources and conditions that make some schools ready to open and others cannot,” it said. “It’s frustrating that principals don’t want to tell why one school community can’t open while others can,” the group wrote, citing more than a hundred principals and vice-principals.

According to the letter, principals met with the district on Wednesday morning, during which they were told not only would schools be closed on Thursdays and Fridays, but that if Chicago Public Schools were to go to a remote or hybrid model, it would begin on Monday and be closed on Monday. Ends Friday, January 14th.

The district has not publicly released any such plans. But according to the letter, district officials “repeatedly” reiterated to the principal that the school would be closed on Thursday and Friday.

“It is offensive and unsafe to tell the principal that the school will be closed this week and then publicly state a few hours later that the principal will decide to open or close our school on Friday,” the letter said. ”

In a survey sent Monday, 75 percent of administrators agreed that school systems should telecommute for one to two weeks and “ensure it is safe for the district to resume in-person learning” during that time, according to the press release containing the letter. But many worry about parts of the problem that suggest schools can open up on an individual basis.

Chicago Public Schools said one in 10 teachers showed up at the school on Wednesday “to get ready for work,” compared with one in eight teachers on Thursday.

CNN has reached out to Chicago Public Schools for comment on the principal’s letter, but has not received a response.

The rift between America’s third-largest district and its teachers echoes a debate playing out across the country amid the Covid-19 surge sparked by variants of Omicron: When and how should students return to classrooms?

Parent: My child is a loser

Some frustrated parents feel like they and their children are caught between the two.

“We don’t know how to plan for the next 24 hours, let alone the next 24 days,” parent Nolberto Casas told CNN on Thursday.

“They’re pointing the finger at the school district, and then at the teacher,” said Casas, who wants students to be able to learn in person. “I’m pointing the finger at my kid because he’s the one who ended up losing the whole argument.”

Chicago students to miss second day of classes as teachers stay home
In-person learning resumed Monday, but Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) voted Tuesday night to change to virtual teaching. Unions say conditions for face-to-face learning are unsafe as new Covid-19 cases and new hospitalisations of children hit a record high, so they are understaffed and tested.
Chicago Public SchoolsThe school, with some 340,000 students, responded by canceling schools, insisting that children need to return to classrooms. The district said its schools are safe.

Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Allison Arwady told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that while she understands teachers’ concerns, schools are not the source of the spread of Covid-19, adding that remote learning “is unlikely to be something we can continue to go back to. “again and again. “

On Tuesday, the last day of classes, the school system reported 422 new cases of Covid-19 in students and 271 new cases in adults — both highs for the school year.

Union president Jesse Sharkey said Wednesday that if the standoff continues, teachers may not be able to return to classrooms until January 18. He said teachers could return early if the surge subsides or if unions reach an agreement with city officials.

A sign is displayed at the entrance to the Chicago Public Schools headquarters on January 5, 2022 in Chicago, Illinois.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Chicago Public Schools CEO Pedro Martinez said in a joint statement Thursday’s talks were “productive.”

Meanwhile, some parents said they were unhappy with both the union and the city.

“I am very disappointed with the fear-mongering tactics and negative rhetoric of the Chicago teachers’ union on this vote,” said Carolina Barrera Tobón, a parent of first and third graders in the district. “I am equally disappointed with the CPS CEO and our mayor.”

What Parents Should Know About Sending Children Back to School During Omicron

‘ “CPS has missed out on many important decisions and implementation of safety procedures,” she said. “Honestly, I don’t believe teachers’ unions are only staying remote for two weeks after they continue to spread misinformation about the safety of our schools.”

Ryan Griffin, another parent and founder of the Chicago Parent Collective, which promotes in-person learning, noted that public health officials have emphasized the importance of putting students “above all.”

“Instead of doing surgery and isolating certain classes in certain schools where community transmission is high, they closed 550 schools that serve 340,000 students,” he said. “That’s not the right thing to do; that’s Bring the sledgehammer and chaos into one big area.”

CNN’s Omar Jimenez reports that Brad Parks and Bill Kirkos are from Chicago. CNN’s Rachel Burstein Parks, Raja Razek, Holly Yan, Theresa Waldrop, Steve Almasy, Carma Hassan and Elizabeth Stuart contributed to this report.

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