Yeah, newsletter is long again, folks, but well worth it… Since last week’s RYH newsletter (sent Friday morning), COVID-19 or coronavirus has taken over the news. Note: this newsletter was completed at 11PM 3/11 and scheduled to send at 6AM 3/12. Below are some links to find updates, information on the virus, and the latest news on COVID-19 in our schools.
If you need help locating medical care, please reach out to the CPS Office of Student Health and Wellness at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling the Healthy CPS Hotline 773-553-KIDS (5437). If you or your child has a fever, cough, or difficulty breathing and did not have direct contact with a COVID-19 positive person, please contact your primary care provider. If you are concerned that you or your child have had direct contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, please contact the CDPH at email@example.com or call 312-746-4835.
- In the news: These are the webpages we have bookmarked and check often.
ADDED 3.13... Special education:
- Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, Inc. (COPAA)
Review resources provided by U.S. Department of Education on COVID-19 including two fact sheets on Coronavirus related Q&A documents – one concerning FERPA and one on providing services for students with disabilities, and one fact sheet on assessments and accountability under ESEA.
- Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP): guidance on coronavirus and students with disabilities
- Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, Inc. (COPAA)
We’ve said it for years, we’re demanding it again today. Each school needs a full-time nurse. This is not a luxury, it’s a life saving necessity. Even though COVID-19 is rarely seen in children (for yet unknown reasons), it’s a serious health threat to those with compromised immune systems (regardless of age) and the elderly. Most children interact with these vulnerable groups on a daily basis, either in their classroom, on the playground or park, or at home. There are over 100,000 uninsured children in Illinois**, mostly in families of color, and since over 75% of children in CPS are either from families of color or qualify for free/reduced lunch the lack of full-time school nurses is both a socioeconomic and racial disparity issue that is allowed to negatively affect these children every day. Nurses not only respond to medical emergencies, administer medications, and address multiple medical issues, they are trusted and knowledgeable medical personnel that can accurately share COVID-19 prevention techniques and improve awareness not only with our children, but school staff and parents as well.
Schools are community anchors. Students eat 2, sometimes 3, meals at school every day. Over 75% of CPS students qualify for free/reduced lunch, and with over 16,000 homeless students, schools are a safe place that meet multiple needs often not met elsewhere. The 20 minutes children have to eat their meals, though, means they are rushed, and definitely not spending the recommended 20-seconds washing their hands before eating. Schools should embrace flexibility in lunch schedules to allow children to properly wash their hands prior to eating, and ensure soap/hand sanitizer is readily available throughout the day if we are to mitigate further community spread of COVID-19. Although CPS has stated additional cleaning supplies will be made available, it needs to be expanded to not just janitorial use cleaning supplies, but soap near sinks, and hand sanitizer in classrooms. And, finally and very importantly: What is the plan if or when there needs to be mass closures of schools due to COVID-19? What is the plan for CPS and the City to provide meals for kids who count on breakfast and lunch during the school day? What is the plan to help families who may need assistance for childcare or need other services for their children? We do hope a planning is actively happening and we hope educators are at the table to help inform this response.
UPDATED to add.. A Day in our Shoes blog: Coronavirus and School Closings | Will your child still receive IEP services?
**In our email of this newsletter we stated incorrectly that over 100,000 children are uninsured in CPS. This is incorrect. Over 100,000 children in Illinois are uninsured. We apologize for this error.
Other concerns with respect to COVID-19:
- Student attendance incentives & competitions need to be shut down- this is true for every school & district. Student attendance rates need to come out of the CPS SQRP. ISBE should also take the attendance out of their state school rating system.
- It is “testing season” for federally mandated state standardized tests. For Illinois, it’s the IL Assessment for Readiness (IAR) then the IL Science Assessment (ISA). Both of these tests need to be suspended. This is in ISBE’s realm as they will have to apply for a waiver from the US Department of Education. We encourage the seeking of this waiver and the transparency of doing so. (Related: Opt Out / Student Refusal materials here.)
- Election Day is Tuesday and many of our schools are polling places. Parents are not only concerned about student safety issues with this practice but are now concerned about this practice as a public health issue.
- Schools need cleaning supplies [disinfecting wipes: read this tweet from a teacher; drop them off at any school] and basic hygienic supplies: hand soap & paper towels; hand sanitizer. Privatized custodial services have wreaked havoc on CPS school cleanliness which does impact student and educator health. [This is in no way comprehensive, but check out our “Aramark” tagged posts on our website. And did you know that management of our CPS building engineers is privatized too?]
- Districts can’t just “switch over” to e-learning. It actually needs planning and time & resources. Not to mention the inequity that exists with infrastructure and devices.
At RYH we are doing our best to keep parents informed weekly via this newsletter and daily via social media. Here are all the ways you can stay in touch with us. Please be good to each other out there! If you collected other parent contact info before and during the strike, reactivate it now and check in with each other to see how everyone is doing. Are there families who will need some assistance if schools close? Is there a way to set up a support structure now for those families? Share relevant and well sourced information with each other. Check into your school to see if you can be of any assistance now or moving forward. Listen to your children and do some research and reading together. To get you started:
UPDATED to add... CDC Resource on Stigma & Resilience
Great Twitter thread here from CPS teacher Xian Franzinger Barrett on a discussion with his 7th graders. And please see all of the other links above to read all the latest on COVID-19.
UPDATED to add... National Association of School Psychologists (NASP): Talking to Children About COVID-19 (Coronavirus): A Parent Resource
UPDATED to add... Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center
LSC nominations: extended to Fri, March 13, 3PM
CPS announced this last Friday afternoon. The CPS LSC Elections webpage has the paperwork you need to apply as a LSC candidate by Friday at 3PM at your school and a timeline of what to expect between now and LSC elections which are Wed, April 22 (elementary schools) & Th, April 23 (high schools). We have created a RYH LSC webpage where folks can learn about LSC 101, LSC Campaign Basics, LSC Voting and Effective LSC Practices. Please take our LSC survey, which will help us continue to grow our resources and LSC support!
Check out this event hosted by the LSCs.4.All coalition and for LSC candidates: Building Your LSC Campaign. Tues, March 31, 6-7:30 PM, NTA Elementary.
An unpublished op-ed: On the Collateral Damage of NWEA
We're honored to publish this op-ed which was written for the Chicago Tribune but went unpublished. It's worth a read. The author is Martin Gartzman, a Senior Associate at UChicago STEM Education at the University of Chicago. From 2002–2006, Gartzman served as the CPS Chief Mathematics and Science Officer, where he directed the Chicago Math and Science Initiative (CMSI), the district’s touted program for mathematics and science improvement.
Sun-Times: 2 bilingual Latina teachers who work together at Little Village Academy finalists for teaching award Little Village ES #cpsuccess!
RYH Table Talk: What Makes A Great School?
NOTE: We are monitoring the COVID-19 situation and will determine by next week if we will host this on the 21st as planned or if we will postpone. Thanks for understanding.
Saturday, March 21, 6-8PM | Helix Cafe, 6237 N Clark| Register here | Dinner and childcare provided
Table Talk is a new conversation series from RYH that connects parent narratives from across the city to systemic issues in education. We believe by being a parent, you deserve a space to be able to learn and share with other parents. Our first Table Talk will be on the CPS school ratings system (SQRP). Attendance metrics are a big part of the SQRP calculation. This is problematic and in the news right now. Come join us to discuss how SQRP impacts you & your school and what really makes a school great. Share your SQRP stories and connect with other parents to change the narrative. This is a free event. Please register in advance here.
What Should I Do If My Child Is Being Bullied - A RYH Toolkit
We’ve updated the Toolkit we published last year. You can find it here. The purpose of this Toolkit is to help families navigate the CPS Anti-Bullying Policy that is found in the CPS Student Rights & Responsibilities 2019-20 (SRR) booklet and the CPS Policy Manual. The Student Code of Conduct (SCC) is found within the SRR.
Testing season is here! Your child can refuse.
Thanks to our friends at Illinois Families for Public Schools for publishing “Opt Out: Refusing State Tests.” There is a Guide to refusing the IL state test, IAR (Illinois Assessment for Readiness), as well as a sample opt out letter. If you have questions, you can call or text 413-3OPTOUT or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Special education news
RYH Special Ed Tip of the Week: Learn the lingo and the acronyms of special education. It can be disheartening and overwhelming to sit in an IEP meeting and feel like the staff is speaking in fast forward. A Day in Our Shoes offers an extensive, parent friendly, printable list of common educational acronyms and terminology in Education ABC’s.
Your To Do List:
- Be sure to sign up for the CPS “Diverse Learner” Mailing List here.
- Join the CPS Diverse Learners Parent Advisory Council. The next meeting is scheduled for TONIGHT, March 12, 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm, Garfield Park Office, Room 151, 2651 W. Washington Blvd. (Please check their Twitter account for updates on this meeting & upcoming meetings.) This is a great way to grow your knowledge about your special education rights and talk with other parents, CPS Central Office Special Ed Administrators, Parent Support Specialists and the ISBE Monitors about any concerns you may have.
- Have you done this yet? We need your Special Education questions! RYH is working on creating an online resource to help families navigate Special Ed in CPS and would love for you to fill out this survey: English | Spanish.
CPS Announces Universal Enrichment Remedies (UER) a/k/a “compensatory education” plan for students with disabilities who were harmed by its illegal special education practices in the 2016-17 and 2017-18 school years. You should have received an email dated 2/12/2020 (which you can find here in English and Spanish). CPS will be sending a second letter to the parents of approximately 10,000 students who have been identified by CPS to be automatically eligible for extra services like outside tutoring, social/emotional programs, physical education programs, chrome books, extended school year, reimbursement for wrongly denied bus service, etc. WBEZ has the story: Chicago Public Schools To Compensate Special Ed Students Illegally Denied Services. IMPORTANT: Even if you don’t receive a second letter from CPS, it does not mean your child is ineligible for UER. You can ask for a special meeting (an “SSCA meeting”) with CPS to discuss how you think your child was harmed and what CPS can do to make up for it. We will post further information about the special meeting process as soon as we get it from CPS so check back with us.
Sat, March 21, 10:00am - 2:00pm | CPS Garfield Park Office, 2651 W. Washington
This event is hosted by ODLSS in collaboration with The Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities, Starnet Illinois, and the CPS FACE Office.
Racial Equity petition has over 200 signers- let’s get it to 350 by the weekend!
In a letter sent to the Mayor’s Office and the CPS Board of Ed, 25 organizations, including RYH, called on the Mayor to expand the responsibilities of the CPS Office of the Inspector General (OIG) to incorporate independent public accountability to racial equity. Please consider signing this petition and sharing.
What’s your plan to make sure you vote on Tues, March 17?
TODAY is the deadline to request a vote by mail ballot, which you can do here for Chicago residents and here for suburban Chicago Cook County residents. Here’s the League of Women Voters of Chicago’s March 17 Illinois Primary webpage with lots of helpful links.
- ICYMI… First day of school is Sept 8, 2020. Last day of school is June 22, 2021.
- Give CPS feedback
CPS BOE Committee Materials
- You can find all the materials from the Jan 27 meeting of the Whole Child Committee here.
- You can find all the materials from the Jan 14 meeting of the Early Childhood Committee here.
- You can find all the materials from the Education Workforce & Development Committee here.
- The School Funding meetings are over for now. Slides from the presentation: English | Spanish