Chicago Public Schools Seeks Parent and Community Feedback on Preliminary Reopening Framework for Upcoming School Year
Preliminary Reopening Framework Prioritizes the Health and Safety of Students and Staff; CPS Launches Additional Parent and Student Surveys and Will Host Five Forums to Inform Public and Gather Feedback from Key Stakeholders; Final Reopening Plan Will be Released in Early August and Final Decision on In-Person Instruction Will be Made in Late August Based on Public Health Situation
Key Takeaways from the Draft Framework:
The district is encouraging families to provide feedback on the preliminary framework during the next two weeks, which will inform final guidance that will be released in early August. CPS and the City of Chicago will be closely monitoring the evolving public health environment, and a final decision on reopening school buildings will be made in late August based on the health situation at that time.
“This preliminary framework represents the next step in our community-wide discussion on how we ensure our children stay safe, engaged, and resume learning when our school year begins in September,” said Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot. “Our dialogue will require that everyone’s voices are heard in order to arrive at the strongest possible plan for our students and school communities. COVID-19 has been unpredictable from the start, but whatever form this challenge takes, I want everyone to know that education and learning will be happening this fall.”
In order to safely reopen schools, the district is also implementing rigorous public health protocols such as requiring masks, daily health screenings, temperature checks and hiring approximately 400 additional custodians to help carry out stringent cleaning and sanitizing protocols across the district.
“Nothing is more important than the health and safety of our school communities, which is why we have spent months listening to parents and stakeholders and developing a draft reopening framework that prioritizes safety and high-quality instruction for all students,” said CPS CEO Dr. Janice K. Jackson. “As the leader of this district and as the parent of two CPS students, I know this has been a challenging time for families. We aimed to create a draft framework that is flexible and capable of delivering high-quality instruction whether students are learning from home or at school. We look forward to gathering feedback from parents and staff so that we can finalize a plan that meets the needs of our school community.”
Understanding the critical importance of in-person instruction, ISBE’s guidance strongly encourages school districts to provide opportunities for in-person instruction for students. The district’s Preliminary Reopening Framework follows health guidance and is designed to respond to the current public health needs and, if necessary, quickly transition to learning from home should the pandemic change its trajectory in Chicago or Illinois.
Adopting a Hybrid Model for High-Quality In-Person and At-Home Instruction
In order to ensure that students return to school in a safe manner, the district will plan to implement a hybrid model, where most students will both learn from home and receive in-person instruction in schools, which will allow for approximately 50 percent of CPS’ student population to attend school in-person on any given day.
Given the diverse course scheduling requirements in grades 11 and 12, most high school juniors and seniors will learn from home full time, with schools encouraged to safely bring in juniors and seniors who need additional academic or social and emotional support, or students who are engaged in specialty programming, such as Career and Technical Education (CTE) programming that can’t be accessed at home.
Additionally, given the unique needs of students in special education cluster programs, the small size of the programs and the existing layout of spaces, in-person instruction will be available to them every day. If schools have the space and staffing available to allow students back daily, diverse learners and English learners will be prioritized. A chart outlining the shifts by grade is provided below.
Pre-K Full day Programs
Pre-K Half-day Programs
Students in Grades K–10
Students in Grades 11 and 12
Cluster Program Students
As part of this model, students will be placed in pods of approximately 15 students during the school day in order to minimize exposure to other students and to support rapid contact tracing should a member of the pod contract COVID-19. Student pods will receive instruction in assigned rooms with assigned seating and use the same designated spaces in a building, such as bathrooms. Students within a pod will also wear masks and maintain social distancing to the greatest extent possible throughout the school day, with desks spaced six feet apart where feasible.
Through a hybrid 2-1-2 scheduling model, each student pod will spend the same two consecutive days each week learning at school, the same two days learning independently at home, and each Wednesday they will participate in real-time virtual instruction with their classroom teacher. This model will allow students, staff, and families to maintain a stable weekly schedule while affording educators necessary time to plan for various instructional needs.
The district recognizes that the in-person learning environment may not be suited for some students, and we are recommending that students with underlying medical conditions consult their medical provider prior to attending school in-person. Recognizing the unprecedented nature of this pandemic and the need for flexibility, every parent — regardless of whether their student has a medical condition that elevates their COVID risk — will have the option to opt-out of in-person instruction. Staff with medical or caretaking needs will have their leave of absence or accommodation requests addressed through revised procedures that will be communicated in late July.
“Our framework is designed to maximize critical instructional time while prioritizing the health and safety of students and staff,” said CPS Chief Education Officer LaTanya D. McDade. "As a next step, we are eager to hear and incorporate feedback from families to ensure we have the best possible plan in place to meet the needs of all students.”
Enhanced Standards for Hybrid Learning At-Home and In-Person
In order to stabilize the educational experience for students who will be learning from home and from school, the district will be enacting new requirements for learning based on ISBE guidance, including ensuring each student is participating in a minimum of five hours of instruction or school work per day, developing an attendance tracking model for students, transitioning to e-learning on Google platforms district-wide, and implementing additional measures to further improve the educational experience. Additional details on new learning expectations and improvements will be outlined in early August as part of the final reopening framework.
As part of the hybrid model, the district will continue to work with schools to identify and provide computing devices to students who still need them, and through Chicago Connected, the district will extend hotspot coverage for Students in Temporary Living Situations (STLS) and expand free, high-speed internet access to 100,000 CPS students.
Keeping Students and Staff Healthy Through Stringent Protocols and Resources
The district has spent the months since the closure disinfecting more than 50,000 rooms and procuring the sanitation and health resources needed to safely reopen in the fall at a large scale. As part of our plan, the district is implementing stringent disinfecting and health screening protocols to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and limit exposure to the greatest extent possible. Key measures to promote health and safety include:
Significant Health Protocols:
While every possible measure will be taken to keep students and staff safe, the district has developed protocols in the event a member of the school community tests positive for COVID-19, which includes stringent disinfecting of impacted areas and mandated quarantine procedures for anyone who had close contact. Through the hybrid model, it is possible that a pod would need to be quarantined based on the level of contact, rather than an entire school community. Any decision to suspend in-person instruction or quarantine students or staff will be made in accordance with guidance from state and local health experts.
Collecting Feedback to Finalize Reopening Plan
The COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented challenges for our students, families and staff, and the district’s priority is to ensure our plan for the fall best supports everyone in our school communities. More than 50,000 parents responded to the survey and the district conducted over 25 focus groups of students, parents and staff to gain insight into expectations and needs for the fall. This critical input helped the district develop this framework, and direct feedback from stakeholders will continue to guide decision making going forward.
Key takeaways from the surveys and focus groups that were incorporated into the preliminary framework include:
Survey: Families, students and staff should submit feedback by July 31, 2020. A link to the survey can be found here: cps.edu/reopening2020survey
Virtual Feedback Meetings: The district will hold five meetings (three in English, two in Spanish) on the following dates. Participants must register in advance to participate.
Date: Monday, July 27, 2020
Time: 9:00 a.m. - 10:30 a.m.
Registration Link: https://cpsreopeningconversation1.eventbrite.com
Date: Tuesday, July 28, 2020
Time: 4:00 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.
Registration Link: https://cpsreopeningconversation2.eventbrite.com
Date: Wednesday, July 29, 2020
Time: 9:00 a.m. - 10:30 a.m.
Registration Link: https://cpsreopeningconversation3.eventbrite.com
Date: Thursday, July 30, 2020,
Time: 4:00 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.
Registration Link: https://cpsreopeningconversation4.eventbrite.com
Date: Friday, July 31, 2020
Time: 9:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.
Registration Link: https://cpsreopeningconversation5.eventbrite.com
We are excited to kick off our first Social Emotional Learning Day at Bell with the theme of Self Care on Thursday, May 14th. The schedule for the day can be found in our Google classroom. We hope everyone can take some time to enjoy and take care of social/emotional needs.
Please find the link to this month's SPC meeting agenda here.
Next Meeting: Thursday, April 30th at 6:30 p.m.
This will be a virtual meeting open to the public. Parents and community members can join via the link or phone number below.
Link to video - bit.ly/BellLSC2020-04
Phone link for LSC and public -
1 971-361-9176 PIN: 762 991 471#
Here is the link to the Parent Tech Session hosted by York Chan. He covered several topics related to remote learning platforms in the Google Suite.
Parent Tech Session (Link Coming)
Here is the link to the material request form so parents can request printed copies of the activities at the beginning of each week.
Please join us for our next virtual parent forum meeting this Friday, April 24th at 9:00 a.m. The link to the event can be found below. If you are unable to attend the live event, the link to the recorded version can be found at the same link later in the day.
Our school clinicians, such as our speech pathologist, occupational therapist and nurse are still awaiting guidance from the state about virtual support sessions. In the meantime, they have created this wonderful website which provided resources for families to use during the school closure. We encourage you to visit this website frequently as they will update it with new resources on a regular basis.
Wednesday, April 22nd is report card conference day, and we look forward to connecting with parents virtually to discuss student progress. Obviously this year's conferences will be quite different than in previous years as we are partnering with parents now more than ever to help our students move forward in their learning. We want this year's conferences to be opportunities for you to share your current experiences with your child at home, to review current standards and skills that the class is working on and how your child is doing, and to talk with your child's teacher about additional strategies that can be used during remote learning.
We invite you to sign up for a conference with your child's teacher on Wednesday, April 22nd via the link below. Conferences will be held via the Google Meet platform, and parents can either call in or join the meeting by video. The sign up site will be closed on Monday, April 20th at noon in order to allow us time to prepare the meeting invites.
Please reach out to a member of the admin team at any time if you have any questions.
Conference Sign Up Link: https://www.myconferencetime.com/bellcps/
Virtual Parent Forum is back!!!
We will be hosting another virtual parent forum on Friday, April 24th at 9:00 a.m. to provide updates related to remote learning. As before, we will be sharing a link to a form which will allow parents to submit questions in advance so we can be sure to address the most pressing questions and concerns. The link will also be live during the meeting so parents can submit new questions based on the content being discussed. We look forward to connecting with everyone virtually again.
Our plan is divided into four sections: General Overview, Deaf Department, Options Department and Neighborhood Department. Please click on the links at the bottom of the page to navigate to the different sections. The link to the folder with all of our weekly schedules can be found here.
Parents, please come mark tshirts for your student's classroom. For details, to volunteer, and to donate, click here: friendsofbell.z2systems.com/campaign.jsp?campaign=462& (Donations due Oct.17.)
Fall Parent Conference on Saturday, September 28 from 8:30am-1: 00 pm at Benito Juarez High School. During the event you will be able to participate in workshops, meet CPS vendors and community organizations. See flyers below in English, Spanish, and Chinese.
Kudos to Peter Barash, 7th/8th Social Studies teacher and Shana Pearlmutter, Art teacher, for their leadership in civic engagement. Peter and Shana won the Obama Foundation Award for Leadership in Civic Education, and they were recognized for their achievements at the August Chicago Public School Board of Education meeting. Their work on the Bell Legacy Project teaches our students that they can change the world as engaged, global citizens.
We are excited to welcome everyone back to school on Tuesday, September 3rd. We have been busy getting ready and we can't wait to share several building improvements when we see everyone in September. As we continue to plan for the new school year, we would like to share some important dates. Please make note of these events in your calendars:
Saturday, August 17th Kindergarten Play Date for New Families 10:30-12:00 p.m. on the Bell School playground
*New kindergarten students and their families are invited to come to Bell to play, meet new friends, and learn about after school activities
Thursday, August 29th Meet the Teacher 8:30-9:30 a.m.
*Students in all grade levels are invited to come to school to meet their teachers before school begins.
Tuesday, September 3rd First Day of School for All Students 8:15 a.m. - 3:15 p.m.
*Please note this is a full day for all students.
Saturday, September 7th Back to School Bash 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
*All Bell families are invited to join us on the Bell School turf for a fun afternoon of activities, games, neighborhood vendors, food and community building
*Join us for an informational evening with teachers to learn more about your child's curriculum, routines and classroom experiences for this year.
Thursday, September 12th Grades 1-2 6:30-8:00 p.m.
Wednesday, September 18th Grades 3-5 6:30-8:00 p.m.
Thursday, September 26th Grades K, 6-8 6:30-8:00 p.m.
We look forward to seeing everyone very soon!
The CPS Network 4 Back to School Bash will take place on Thursday, August 1st at Marine Leadership Academy, 1920 N. Hamlin Avenue from 2 to 5 p.m. Please join in the fun and meet other parents, students and staff of the Network 4 schools. Please see the attached flier for more details. We hope to see many of our families at the bash!
Bell School will be hosting two kindergarten playdates for families with incoming kindergarten students. These are opportunities for students to meet each other and play together on the playground while parents can mingle and meet some of the school staff. There is no need to RSVP, just show up on the Bell School playground! If you are unable to come on either of these days, it is okay. We will be hosting an orientation for kindergarten families on August 29th, and more information will be coming about additional opportunities to get to know the Bell community. Keep checking the website for updates about fall events and the orientation times. We hope to see many of you at our playdates!
First Kindergarten Playdate: Saturday, July 27th 10:30 a.m. until 12:00 p.m. on the Bell School Playground
Second Kindergarten Playdate: Saturday, August 17th 10:30 a.m. until 12:00 p.m. on the Bell School Playground
Chicago Public Schools is transitioning to a new student information system over spring break. With the change, all parents will receive new parent portal accounts beginning April 22. If you verified your email address during parent-teacher conferences in November 2018 or with the form sent home the past few weeks, you will automatically be setup in the new system. If your email address is not up-to-date or was not included, please contact the main office to update your information. To learn more about setting up your new parent portal account, please visit cps.edu/pages/Students.aspx.
.UPDATE: The online registration appointment system has been updated for registration appointments in August before the start of school. Please visit bit.ly/Bell19-20Registration.
If you would like to enroll your child in our neighborhood or Options program for 2019-20, please sign up for a registration appointment at bit.ly/Bell19-20Registration. Current Bell students do not need to re-enroll. You must reside in the neighborhood attendance boundaries or have accepted a seat in the Regional Gifted Center to register.
Students must be 5 years old on or before September 1st, 2010 to enter kindergarten. Please bring the following documentation with you:
Report card pick up day is Wednesday, April 10th from 11:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. No classes will be held for students on that day. Bell will continue to use the same online conference scheduling system, which will allow parents to schedule and manage their parent-teacher report card conference schedules at their convenience. The system will be open to parents beginning Monday, March 25th at 9:00 a.m. and will close at 11:59 p.m. on Monday, April 8th. The link to the conference scheduling page is:
myconferencetime.com/bellcps or bit.ly/BellConferences
Please adhere to the following guidelines when scheduling your child’s conference:
Get your tickets now at www.friendsofbell.org/gala/
Hi Bell families!
The weather has caused the creative team behind Charlotte’s Web to make some last minute schedule changes!
Anyone who was originally scheduled to audition on Tuesday 1/29 is now invited to audition Monday 2/4 in the music room from 4 to 6!
Crew interviews will take place in the music room from 3:30-4!
There will be no callbacks this year as the calendar does not allow.
Letters will go home at the end of the week.
First rehearsal will still be held 2/11 3:30-5 with the parent meeting following at 5pm.
**anyone not available to audition/intereview can come in Tuesday 2/5 from 3:30-5pm. But there are limited slots, so try to come in Monday.
Thank you everyone!! We’re so excited to get started.
-Levi Holloway And Sarah Cartwright, directors
BLAZE scheduling calendar has been updated on the main Bell School calendar due to weather related school closings.
Please read the letter below from our CEO, Janice Jackson.
Dear CPS Community,
As a CPS parent, I have ambitious goals for my children, and every child in Chicago, because I believe in their potential and it’s clear after listening to you this past year, that we have the same dreams for our children. I have also heard your thoughts and concerns about where we need to improve.
You were concerned about your child being able to attend a high-quality program, wanted additional funding for your child’s school, and asked what the district was going to do for our vulnerable students who needed more supports. In short, you wanted to know the district’s plan the coming years.
I hear you loud and clear. I also hear our teachers and principals who want to come together to collectively reshape the district to better serve students. My goals for the district are ambitious and they will not be achieved overnight, but if recent progress is any indication, we are making steady and sustainable progress.
CPS is a district on the rise. As the New York Times highlighted last year, our students receive six years of instruction in just five years of school and are improving at a faster rate than 96 percent of school districts in the U.S and a UIC study concluded that our students on average repeatedly outperform their peers from around the state, regardless of ethnicity or income level. Our record-high graduation rate is 78.2%-with the biggest improvements coming from African American and Hispanic males. Less than ten years ago, just over half of CPS students earned a high school diploma.
More CPS graduates are earning college and career credentials than ever and nearly half of the Class of 2018 earned at least one early college and career credential. These post-secondary programs help make college more accessible and affordable for our students and families. And through our innovative partnership with City Colleges and the STAR scholarship program, our city is coming together to lower the financial barriers for any student who wishes to attend college. While college will remain the North Star for the district, we’re creating multiple pathways to success by developing innovative Career Technical Education programs such as Chicago BUILDS at Dunbar, a new wing at Prosser as well as other career training programs.
To achieve more, we must continue to face our challenges head on with integrity and not shy away from addressing them. In May, we launched the district’s first ever Equity Office with the primary focus in year one on bridging gaps in test scores between black and Latino students and their white peers. We hired more social workers and Special Education Case Workers to support our diverse learners. We adjusted the Student Code of Conduct to further address racial disparities, protect students from bullying or harassment based on immigration status, and created the Office of Student Protections and Title IX to support students and ensure we are a district free of sexual harassment, bullying, and abuse.
As an educator, I am proud of these gains, and I am clear on the dedication, hard work, and focus required to achieve them. As a leader, I am also confident in our ability to reach for more. As you may know, CPS’ current strategic plan ends in June, and we are working to chart our path forward. We’re inviting all stakeholders – our educators, our partners, and especially you, our families – to help us shape that vision. The survey takes a few minutes and can be found here.
Your feedback will be combined with feedback from students, educators, and community members and inform the CPS Five-Year Vision. A summary of the feedback from parents will be posted publicly on our website for you to review.
For me, this is the job of a lifetime. I am proud of what we have accomplished together and excited about sustaining our progress in the years ahead. Thank you for your willingness to hear my story, to share yours, and to work together on the district’s next chapter.
Janice K. Jackson, EdD
Chief Executive Officer
Chicago Public Schools
Registration for the 2017-2018 School Year