CHICAGO (WLS) — The book bags are ready and so are the school lessons.
It is a couple of weeks earlier than usual, but this school year looks to be the most “normal” for Chicago Public Schools since the pandemic began.
The arguments between the teachers union and district officials that plagued and overshadowed the previous two years are gone, and that already is a welcome development for all.
There was music, food and games as hundreds of South Side families gathered for one last summer hurrah at Hyde Park’s DuSable Museum Plaza Sunday on the eve of CPS kids going back into the classroom.
“We’re giving away a ton of book bags. We got vaccinations and immunizations with Blue Cross/Blue Shield being administered. Playing a little bit of basketball. Eating some good food, some snow cones,” said Mckinley Nelson, founder of Project Swish Chicago.
Organized by Chicago’s Project Swish, the back-to-school event brought together kids of all ages, along with their parents — both seemingly ready to get the school year underway, even though this one comes two weeks earlier than usual.
When asked if she was ready to go back to school Monday, Destiny Whitlock, a CPS student going into 7th grade, said, “Yes and kind of no. I’m just excited, because I’ve only got one more year. I’m in 7th grade so I get to experience what it feels like.”
“I actually did good because I started getting everything ready earlier so I wouldn’t have to be running around getting everything at one time,” said Melody Lindsey, a CPS parent.
Preparations for the new school year are taking place all over the city. At the Chicago Teacher’s Union headquarters, President Stacy Davis Gates praised the tentative safety plan agreed to with CPS that would allow teachers to avoid the contentious pandemic-related battles of the last two years.
“We have a way to address any and all issues that may be plaguing the school community, and we also have members that are going to do the work fiercely. They won these protections,” Gates said.
Even while staff shortages remain, teachers said they’re committed to making the new school year work as best as possible.
“We’re going to have a good year. Want to make sure our students are emotionally and physically safe,” said Elana Jacobs, a special ed teacher at Benito Juarez Academy.
One question that we will have to wait until Monday to get answered is how things will go for those kids who rely on school buses to get to school. A driver shortage has led to longer routes and CPS continues to offer parents a monthly stipend in exchange for arranging their own transport. CEO Pedro Martinez last week asked…