CHICAGO (CBS)– Teachers, students, and parents wonder what it will be like when Chicago Public Schools reopen in September, and not everyone agrees on the best way to protect classrooms from the risk of COVID-19.

On Monday, CPS began a series of public meetings to discuss the district’s plan for a hybrid model of in-person and virtual classes this fall, with most students in class two days a week, and learning remotely the other three days a week.

Approximately 71% of those who in participated in Monday’s virtual meeting were parents or family members. CPS Chief Executive Officer Janice Jackson said the goal of the meetings is to get the opinion of parents and community members about the current reopening framework. She also said it’s not a done deal that schools will have in-person classes in fall.

“I want people to know that we will not open school under any circumstances if it is not safe to do so,” Jackson said.

Right now, the preliminary framework for CPS calls for a hybrid system, with most students divided into pods of 15, with each group in class two days a week, studying independently at home for two days a week, and attending virtual instruction with their teachers on Wednesdays.

“Given the current public health situation, we believe a hybrid model, where students learn from home and attend a limited number of days a week at school is the safest way to provide in-person instruction to our students,” CPS Chief Education Officer Latanya McDade said.

CPS officials have said a final decision on whether schools will resume in-person classes in the fall won’t be made until late August.

During Monday’s meeting, a quick survey showed that at least 40% of the participants are uncomfortable with the current plan.

Jackson said that’s why the district is holding the meetings, adding that any CPS parent can choose to opt out of in-person classes, and have their children in remote classes entirely instead of the hybrid model.

Parents who opt out of in-person classes will have to commit to the fully remote model for a full school quarter.

In addition to wearing a mask all day, students attending in-person classes will eat lunch in their classrooms or in the cafeteria on a staggered schedule. Each pod of 15 students also will have an assigned restroom.

If any student in a pod shows symptoms of COVID-19, they’ll be moved to the school’s care room until they are picked up.

Also, all students and staff members will be required to complete a symptom and risk screener daily.

CPS said it has purchased more than 1.2 million reusable cloth face coverings to distribute to students and staff, along with other personal protective equipment.

“I want everyone to understand that the plan we’re proposing is designed to adapt to changing public health conditions, and to evolving science. If it is safe to do so, we will begin our hybrid learning model on Sept. 8. As the public health situation in Chicago evolves, so will our plan,” CPS Chief Health Officer Dr. Kenneth Fox said.

CPS also has launched an online survey to help gather feedback on reopening schools this fall. Families, students and staff have until July 31 to submit their survey.

Four more public meetings are scheduled for this week – two in English and two in Spanish.

Date: Tuesday, July 28, 2020
Time: 4:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Language: Spanish
Registration Link: https://cpsreopeningconversation2.eventbrite.com

Date: Wednesday, July 29, 2020
Time: 9:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.
Language: Spanish
Registration Link: https://cpsreopeningconversation3.eventbrite.com

Date: Thursday, July 30, 2020,
Time: 4:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Language: English
Registration Link: https://cpsreopeningconversation4.eventbrite.com

Date: Friday, July 31, 2020
Time: 9:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.
Language: English
Registration Link: https://cpsreopeningconversation5.eventbrite.com