CPS back to school: Chicago public school students return for first day of 2022-23 school year amid shortage of teachers and bus drivers
CHICAGO (WLS) — Chicago public school students return Monday for the first day of the school year.
The fall semester starts earlier than usual, before Labor Day weekend, and students will see more changes this year.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot will join Chicago Public Schools CEO Pedro Martinez at Falconer Elementary School on the Northwest Side to ring the bell and welcome back-to-school students.
As the third-largest district in the nation, that means more than 330,000 students are returning to school on Monday.
The start of the school year earlier than usual is also marked by relaxed COVID protocols, a shortage of teachers and bus drivers.
At the Chicago Teacher’s Union headquarters, President Stacy Davis Gates hailed the interim safety plan agreed to with the CPS that would allow teachers to avoid the controversial pandemic-related battles of the past two years.
As students enter a third pandemic school year, the CPS CEO said masks will still be encouraged and weekly drug tests will still be carried out in schools.
“What I’m really excited about is that with the new CDC guidelines, the only kids who will have to self-isolate, who won’t be able to learn in the classroom, will be kids who test positive or have symptoms,” Martinez said. “All of our other children will be able to learn safely from their classrooms.”
“I will trust our members to be stewards of the common good and care for the families they serve and I will trust that we can finally find a partnership with our school district to anchor all of our resources in the giving of our students as best they can get,” Davis Gates said.
This year, a shortage of bus drivers has resulted in longer trips.
CPS continues to offer parents a monthly stipend in return for arranging their own transport.
CEO Martinez asked parents for a few weeks grace, once school started, to get everything sorted out.
The CTA is offering free rides to Chicago Public School students on Monday.
The offer is valid for all students and their parents or guardians.
Metra and Pace also offer free services to students between 5:30 a.m. and 8 p.m.
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