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CPS parents split on what learning should look like in the fall, new poll shows

At least two in five parents said CPS should have an all-remote start to the school year.

Girl sitting at a table doing schoolwork on a laptop.

Annie Sprat/Unsplash

Two out of every five Chicago parents want the school year to start with all-remote classes, according to a new poll, even though families struggled to adapt to virtual classes in the spring.

Parents surveyed also supported a schedule of alternating days and an increase in cleaning and disinfection of school buildings — both of which align with the district’s tentative plans. For most parents, keeping their children’s education on track has been a top concern during the coronavirus pandemic.

Chicago Public Schools announced on Friday that most students will be in school buildings at least two days a week. High school juniors and seniors will attend all remote classes. All families can opt into full time remote learning.

A poll from education advocacy group Stand for Children Leadership Center, administered to CPS parents between July 8 and July 14, showed a wide majority of parents favored at least some remote learning. Of the parents polled, 35% supported a hybrid of in-person and remote classes, while 40% said the school year should start with all-remote classes. Only 19% of parents preferred in-person classes five days a week.

Although most CPS parents want some form of remote learning this fall, many students encountered significant challenges with virtual instruction after school buildings closed in the spring. An overwhelming number of parents polled said their children missed socializing with their classmates, participating in extracurricular activities, and face-to-face interactions with teachers. The poll also indicated parents struggled to help their children learn from home.

Over 85% of parents said increased cleaning and disinfecting of schools is “extremely important.” Most parents also ranked small gatherings, and use of personal protective equipment, as top priorities. 

CPS has already said it will hire 400 additional custodians to deep clean schools, and require face masks and daily temperature checks on campus. 

Students who participate in hybrid learning will follow a “2-1-2 scheduling model,” in which students will spend two consecutive days each week at school and two consecutive days learning at home. Those tentative plans align with the preferences of some CPS parents, according to the poll. About 44 percent of parents prefer a schedule that alternates between days of the week. 

The poll also showed that parents want to receive regular communication from schools about reopening. A majority of parents want to hear from the schools weekly, while a third of parents want to hear from the schools daily.

“As our city and country continue the fight against COVID-19, Chicago parents want to ensure schools are taking the safety of their children seriously when it comes to schools reopening,” said Mimi Rodman, executive director of Stand for Children Illinois. 

The seven-question poll, which was conducted by Democratic political consulting firm Tulchin Research, reached 660 parents in the Chicago Public Schools and had a 3.8% margin of error. Of the parents survey, 264 were Latino, 231 were Black, and 119 were white.

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