CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago Public Schools students in grades six through eight who opted for in-person learning will be back in class Monday for the first time in a year.

Teachers and staff were back at school last Monday, March 1 to prepare for the middle school students’ return.

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Kindergarten through fifth-grade students returned to class a week ago.

Last week, CPS Chief Education Officer LaTanya McDade said there were still hurdles when it came to reopening for middle schoolers – among them staffing. She said it is an issue in part because of the number of teachers who opted to take unpaid leaves of absence instead of returning to the classroom.

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According to CPS data, 3,840 district teachers have been granted accommodations to stay remote – and another 425 teachers have taken unpaid leaves of absence. That is more than a fourth of CPS pre-K, special education cluster, and K-5 teachers.

Also on the horizon are continued talks with the Chicago Teachers Union about reopening high schools. McDade said that is not likely a one-size-fits-all proposition.

“What does the hybrid model look like in high school? What does it look like to have a phased approach in terms of who we bring back when? All of those things are topics of discussion,” McDade said last week. “I think the most important thing with the high school piece that we want to make sure that we do is hear from parents; hear from students.”

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McDade said a second high school meeting will take place this week. She also said CPS has hired more than 1,200 part-time support staff and substitutes, though the goal is 2,000.

CBS 2 Chicago Staff