After months of arguing about hand sanitizers, positivity rates, air purifiers and the like, a sense of normalcy returned to the city’s public schools today — at least from the outside — as parents clutching mittened hands led their children up snow-dusted steps and back to the classroom.
“I’m kind of scared, but at the same time, he needs to be in school instead of on the computer,” said Eboni Johnson, walking her preschooler, Ashton, to William H. Brown Elementary School on the Near West Side. “He needs to be with other kids. He’s an only child. He needs to have hands-on with his learning.”
She worried about Johnson getting sick — something she planned to tackle with both a spiritual and a practical approach: “I’ve got to pray and keep him clean,” she said.
Allison DeBoer, who leads the pre-K class at Disney II Magnet School in Old Irving Park, said five of her classroom’s 15 kids showed up for in-person learning today. She was tasked with teaching those students as well as another 10 online.
“As a teacher, I feel like I’m ready to be back,” said DeBoer, noting she’d been vaccinated. “But as a parent of three CPS students, they’re staying home till next year. I’m not sending them back.”
If the phased-in return of students goes smoothly, CPS CEO Janice Jackson said she is confident that the overwhelming majority of parents who have chosen to keep their children home and learning remotely will feel safe to choose the in-person option during the fourth quarter.
“Many parents have said, ‘We’ll send ’em back when you figure it out.’ Well, we’ve figured it out,” the schools CEO said.