CPS K through 5th grade students to return to in-person learning for 1st time in nearly a year

More Chicago Public Schools students are getting ready for their return to in-person learning.

Video Transcript

- Kindergarten through fifth grade students are going to be back in the classroom tomorrow for the first time in nearly a year. Cate Cauguiran talked to parents, and she's live for us at CPS headquarters, tonight, with the latest on that. Cate?

CATE CAUGUIRAN: Robby, in addition to K through fifth grade students returning, sixth through eighth grade teachers will also be back in the classroom with still no word on high schoolers. Now, as each phase progresses, there are still CPS parents, tonight, who are wondering why they haven't gotten their seat at the decision making table.

Tomorrow morning, even more CPS students will be back in the classroom as the next phase of return to in-person learning will welcome back kindergarten through fifth grade students.

JANET LUSZCZKI: I look at this as his first chance at normalcy again.

CATE CAUGUIRAN: Janet Luszczki's son Hunter Nielsen is in the fifth grade at [? Leinert ?] Regional Gifted Center. She says her 11-year-old can't wait to get back in the classroom.

JANET LUSZCZKI: This is going to be so important for the kids. It was a very unusual year. A lot of stress for the kids, a lot of stress for the parents, stressful for the teachers.

CATE CAUGUIRAN: Luszczki said, she spent the days leading up to Monday, walking him through what would be his new normal, starting with bringing a face mask and some other new school supplies.

JANET LUSZCZKI: Some of the things that they asked us to do is get a bin, and label it, and paper towels, Lysol wipes, individual handy wipes.

CATE CAUGUIRAN: She says, she has every confidence the district has prioritized safety for all.

JANET LUSZCZKI: They did a great job. I feel 100% safe.

CATE CAUGUIRAN: For Joseph Williams, that is not the case.

JOSEPH WILLIAMS: We still don't feel that it's safe enough, just yet, to send our children back to school.

CATE CAUGUIRAN: The father of five CPS students from kindergarten to high school has opted to keep all of them at home, wishing the return to school plan was staggered out, grade by grade.

JOSEPH WILLIAMS: I really felt that phases should have went maybe by grade levels, grade level by grade level, where you had the opportunity to vaccinate teachers per grade level, and take it as a slow process to working in.

CATE CAUGUIRAN: More importantly, Williams said, he had hoped and still hopes parents will get their chance to be part of decision making with the district going forward.

JOSEPH WILLIAMS: You know, they have to be a part of the decision making that's happening within CPS. You know, it's sad, because I do feel like that family that's left out of what's happening right now. We feel like we are not a part of the process.

CATE CAUGUIRAN: Williams said, tomorrow, he is organizing a sick out and will be joined by other parents who share his concerns. This in an effort to bring attention to CPS to the need to have parents at the table. In response, CPS said, in a statement tonight, in part, parents had the option to select whichever learning option best meets the needs of their student. And the District has invested tens of millions of dollars to support both learning model.