Chicago Public School students return to the classroom on August 30th. The start of school comes one week earlier than the usual Tuesday after the Labor Day return date. Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, August 30th will be the first day back in over a year for many students. CPS announced in July they would follow the Center for Disease Control mask guidance for Illinois K-12 schools.
This month Governor J. B Pritzker issued a statewide mask mandate for all students and staff at Illinois PreK-12 schools and daycares. Pritzker cited the rising cases of the delta variant Covid-19 infections across the country and state. This means that all students and staff, both vaccinated and unvaccinated, must wear a mask inside Chicago Public School buildings.
Masks must be worn at all times except while eating and during outdoor activities. Students and staff must also remain at least three feet apart when possible. Some students will eat school meals in their classrooms, while others will eat in the cafeteria. Chicago Public Schools will also keep the enhanced cleaning standards they instituted in 2020 in place. They have placed HEPA air filters in all occupied classrooms, along with sneeze guards.
Hand sanitizer stations are throughout all school buildings and in every classroom. CPS has hired an additional 24 contact tracing staff members to help the district with timely contact tracing reports. In an email to Chicago Public School staff, interim CPS CEO Jose Torres said the decision was based on “widespread scientific consensus.”
“Our goal is to keep all students healthy and safe while they learn in-person five days a week with their teachers and peers so they can receive the education and supports they need and deserve,” said Torres.
To stay up to date on back to school information, festivities, and vaccinations for students 12 and above visit https://www.cps.edu/services-and-supports/back-to-school/
Paula J. Shelton is a freelance writer and journalist based in Chicago. Find her on social @beboldshineon