After just 68 days of summer, the new year for Chicago Public Schools begins on Monday.  This is what you need to know.

Surely those 68 days flew by.

Chicago Public Schools students return to classrooms on Monday, one of the earliest start times in modern memory. CPS generally starts the day after Labor Day, with a few exceptions, such as starting on August 26 in 2013 and start date of August 30 last year.

The Chicago Board of Education put this year’s calendar in march after district surveyed parents, students and employees. The results were divided, with more tending to start on August 29. But the district said it went with the earlier date because it had the support of a majority of administrators, school leaders, central office staff members and students.

Some are not excited about the short summer. East Lakeview mother Diane Doran said she booked a non-refundable vacation home in January based on the CPS historical start date.

“I’m not totally opposed to having a start date that more closely aligns with suburban schools, but a change of this magnitude should have been communicated to families much sooner or delayed until next year,” said Doran, who also regretted having one week long. Thanksgiving break, as it “forces parents to find alternatives or take vacations for those extra days.”

This past year was difficult, to say the least, as COVID-19 disrupted instructional time throughout the district. CPS is looking beyond the pandemic, with CEO Pedro Martinez outlining a three-year vision that includes establishing early literacy supports; equitable rating policies; and improvements to the diverse learning program.

“Our ultimate goal is for the 22-23 school year to be a strong recovery year that returns the district to its pre-pandemic upward trajectory through strategic investments and implementation of best practices,” Martinez said Wednesday at lunch. of the City Club of Chicago. .

The district still faces some challenges, including the persistent virus, a national bus driver shortage Y continuing decline in enrollment. Here’s what you need to know for the 2022-23 school year.

CPS had already announced its coronavirus mitigation strategies ahead of the arrival of new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The district continues to “strongly recommend” wearing a mask; offer the free assessment program at the school each week; and exclude students and staff members from school for five days if they test positive for COVID-19.

CPS made a major change to its protocols by revising CDC guidance. Unvaccinated students and staff members who come into close contact with an infected person will no longer be forced to stay home for five days.

The Chicago Teachers Union is expected to vote soon on a new security agreement with the district. The last one was reached in January to put an end to a confrontation that provoked Suspension from classes for five days. during the omicron wave.

Almost 23,000 Cases of COVID-19 were reported during the last school year among 272,000 students. More than 9,000 adult cases were also recorded, according to district data. An elementary special education classroom assistant. died of the virus in November.

The state recently shared new monkeypox prevention guide for schools The illness is characterized by a rash or sores that resemble blisters or pimples, with some experiencing flu-like symptoms such as fever, chills, or fatigue.

“Anyone with MPV should stay out of school until symptoms of MPV have resolved, the rash has healed, all scabs have fallen off, and a new layer of skin has formed per (CDC) recommendations,” they said. health officials in a statement.

In a Monday newsletter to families, CPS noted that no children had contracted the virus among the more than 700 reported cases in Chicago. “Because the virus is most often transmitted through prolonged intimate contact, MPV is very unlikely to spread in a work or school setting,” CPS officials wrote. “We will continue to monitor the situation and work with our public health partners, but there is very little risk to school communities at this time.”

The National School Bus Driver Shortage continues to plague CPS, which struggled to provide service last year through its mosaic of vendors. The district promised this year to address the problem sooner, but there are signs that some students face very long routes.

Jiawen Yan said her son usually has an hour-long bus ride from the South Loop to his magnet elementary school in Mount Greenwood. A few days ago, she was told that the bus would pick up her son at 5:33 am to leave at 7:30 am.

“CPS sent an email on July 28. They said there is a shortage of bus drivers across the country, so some students may experience 90-minute (trips) each way, but this is 120 minutes,” Yan said, adding, “You don’t have time for the homework, let alone for anything outside of school. You have to go to bed at 8 to get up at 5.

The district said it is prioritizing diverse students whose educational plans require transportation and homeless students. CPS is offering $500 monthly stipends for diverse student families to find alternate transportation and free Chicago Transit Authority passes for general education students and an accompanying adult if they don’t have a route. It is not clear how many students have accepted these proposals.

CPS said it received more than 15,700 transportation requests in late July and created routes for those students. The district said diverse students who have not accepted the $500 monthly incentive or been sent on the first day of school will receive $25 a day until they get a bus route.

Four hundred school bus driver positions remain vacant, CPS said, adding that it has been working with providers to raise wages to at least $20 an hour.

Martinez asked for mercy Thursday at an unrelated news conference. “Overall, I’m optimistic, but I want families to know that the first two weeks are always busy, so please bear with us,” he said. “The goal is to shorten those routes. The goal is to make sure everyone gets routed, and the new requests we get, to get them routed as soon as possible.”

For those who take CTA trains and buses to school, the agency is once again offering free rides Monday to students and an accompanying adult in a tradition now sponsored by Butcher Boy Cooking Oils. Metra and Pace also offer free rides.

Martinez on Thursday safety plans submitted for the upcoming school year which includes the Safe Passage Program to help students get to school safely; technology to support the physical safety of students on school grounds; the tutoring program Choose to change; an intervention initiative aimed at 1,000 young people who have been disconnected from school for more than a year; various social-emotional supports and new digital threat assessment training to prevent skirmishes from escalating on social media.

The school board recently approved a $10.1 million contract with the Chicago Police Department to school resource officers for the next school year. About 40 high schools will have one or two uniformed by campus.

Earlier start date means more summer days in the classroom. Then Mayor Rahm Emanuel in 2014 announced a five-year plan to have air conditioning in all CPS classrooms.

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In May, CTU reported hearing about cooling problems at 25 CPS schools in the midst of a heat wave. Later that month, the board of education approved the purchase of 700 small and 1,400 large window-mounted air conditioning units for $1.5 million. The district told the Tribune last month that the units had not been purchased as of July 15.

CPS enrollment fell 3% last year to 330,411 students, continuing a decade-long trend of declining enrollment. CPS is in danger of losing its distinction as the third largest school district in the country to Miami-Dade County Public Schools.

In his City Club speech, Martinez called declining enrollment and underenrolled schools “an opportunity to create innovative school models.”

Some schools are seriously underutilized, according to data from the last school year. Emil G. Hirsch Metropolitan High School, Frederick Douglass Academy High School, Manley Career Academy High School and Uplift Community High School had fewer than 100 students enrolled last year and had less than 10% of their school utilized. There’s a moratorium on school closures until 2025.

CPS had a teacher vacancy rate of 2.7% as of the end of the last school year, and the district said it is working to address this issue amid a nationwide teacher shortage.

“Due to a variety of factors, including the historic investments we made this year in academic coaches, interventionists, school counselors and other school personnel, we anticipate a modest increase in teacher vacancy rates, but are confident that you will make progress in hiring. of these positions in the coming weeks,” CPS said in its Monday letter to parents.

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