CHICAGO (CBS) — With the numbers rising in Illinois in the coronavirus pandemic, Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Thursday ordered that all Chicago Public Schools remain closed through April 20.
As CBS 2 Political Investigator Dana Kozlov reported, that order has prompted many questions about what it all could mean for the rest of the year – and how it could affect everything from lessons to summer jobs.
By state mandate from Gov. JB Pritzker, all Illinois schools – public and private – are closed until March 30. But given what is expected to be an upward trajectory of the virus spread, Mayor Lori Lightfoot – in consultation with Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady and Chicago Public Schools Chief Executive Officer Janice Jackson – decided to extend the closure.
Under the new timeline, students will return to classes on Tuesday, April 21.
“We need to give parents and guardians plenty of advance notice about this reality and the ability to plan. CPS and the City will continue to support you in the ways that they have throughout these early days of the school closures,” Mayor Lightfoot said. “A thousand thanks of gratitude to everyone inside and outside of CPS who have been stepping up for our kids and our families.”
Father of five Joseph Williams said the mayor’s call to keep schools closed another month is the right one.
“Believe it or not, I actually was expecting it. I hoping for that response,” Williams said.
On Thursday night, he and his wife were preparing for almost five weeks of intense family time.
“I don’t ever think that you’re ready for it, but you have to be ready,” Williams said.
If school resumes on April 21, it will be after 20 missed days of class. That, combined with the teachers’ strike back in October, will bring the total number of missed school days this year to 30.
On Thursday night, CPS spokesman Michael Passman said the 20 days constitute an “act of God” and will not have to be made up.
As for tests, including Advanced Placement exams and the SAT, Passman said the district is working with various agencies to work all that out.
Williams said his family will continue to stock up on the needed CPS breakfasts and lunches and soldier on.
“We do school with the kids – like they would regular go the school. We give them breakfast in the morning. We even take them outside in the back so they can get recess and get some running and some activity going on out there, and we do the school work with them – so we’re just going to continue to do what we’re already doing,” Williams said.
But Williams recognizes not every parent can afford to do that – so the next few weeks could be quite challenging for hundreds of families across the city.
Meanwhile, graduation dates will likely stay the same in the wake of the extended closure, but that is up to principals.