Chicago’s mayor on Wednesday announced that the nation’s third-largest school district will not welcome students back to the classroom to start the school year, and will instead rely on remote instruction. The city's decision to abandon its plan to have students attend in-person classes for two days a week once the fall semester starts Sept. 8 followed strong pushback from the powerful union representing Chicago teachers and as districts nationwide struggle with how to teach their children during the coronavirus pandemic, the AP reports. When Chicago officials announced their hybrid-learning plan last month, they said it was subject to change depending on families’ feedback and data tracking the spread of the coronavirus.
On Wednesday, Mayor Lori Lightfoot attributed the change in plans to a recent uptick in confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the city. "The decision to start remotely makes sense for a district of CPS' size and diversity," Lightfoot said at a City Hall news conference. "But we also understand the struggle this will be for many of our parents who have to manage work, child care, and all the other needs at home." Under the district’s original plan, parents were allowed to opt out of in-person instruction but had to decide by Friday. A survey showed that 41% of the parents of elementary school students and 38% of the parents of high school students didn't plan to send their children back to the classroom this fall, the district said in a news release. About 80% of Black and Latino families said they wouldn't send their kids back for in-person instruction.