This Week in Ed 3.26.20: No school in IL, Week 2 | COVID-19

We hope you and your family are well. Yes, this newsletter has a lot of content, including many articles. If you read and scroll you'll find many things of value. You can find the RYH COVID-19 resource page here- we try to update this daily. You can read more about what we are doing during this time here. Thanks for reading. Here are the ways to stay in touch with us. Stay well, friends.

~ RYH Staff & Board

Home with the kids… we all have stories

If you would like to share your story with us- your challenges; your successes; your worries; your advice; your reflections- so we can publish in these newsletters, please email Yes, we’d be happy to share student perspectives with parent permission. Thank you for considering.


The CPS Board of Ed met yesterday with a modified, remote format

With only 15 speaking spots, as opposed to the usual 60, RYH was unable to secure a spot. Here’s a link to the written statement we submitted plus all the press coverage of the meeting. Our statement reiterates what we’ve been telling several CPS Central Office staffers- we are willing to help; let’s work together. 

WTTW: CPS Approved for $75 Million in Spending to Address COVID-19 Emergency

Chalkbeat Chicago: Chicago to buy more computers and ramp up virtual learning, with details coming this week


LSC Solidarity Call, TONIGHT, 6-7:30pm

As our city, state and nation experiences an unprecedented pandemic and stay-at-home order, with most city services, parks and libraries closed or limited...this is a good opportunity to open dialogue to create solidarity across our school communities. Our goal is simple; to leverage existing leadership structures in schools to check in on how folks are doing. We know some schools are doing amazing work given access to resources and strong LSC support. On the call, we will share best practices, resources and tips to support strengthening communication amid physical distancing and remote learning. 

Local School Council Solidarity Call 

Thursday, March 26, 6:00-7:30pm via Zoom

Register in advance here. You will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining us on Zoom.

If you cannot join us, please take a few moments to complete a short survey. All individual responses will be kept confidential.


Special Education news

Guidance... Federal, State, CPS

The Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services (OSEP, Federal) Supplemental Fact Sheet for COVID-19 in PK-12 Schools While Serving Children with Disabilities - they are basically saying that there has been a “serious misunderstanding” by some educators who believe that IDEA Law “presents insurmountable barriers to remote [special] education” and “This is simply not true.”  They go on to say, “...[Districts] should not opt to close or decline to provide distance instruction...for students with disabilities.”  

IL State Board of Education (ISBE, State) Special Ed Guidance can be found here.

NEW from CPS: CPS ODLSS has said they are following State and Federal guidance with respect to Special Education and can hold virtual IEP meetings via videoconferencing or teleconferencing, if possible.  Many of the details of how these Special Education mandates can be carried out are a work in progress and can be found at Diverse Learner Services During School Closures - this is linked on the CPS COVID-19 webpage

Parent voices sharing real impacts of the school closures

WBEZ: ‘We Can’t Afford To Have Him Left Behind’: Special Ed Students Struggle During School Shutdown

RYH Special Education Zoom Meetings

  1. Special Education Community Circle- Parents: Standing Zoom meeting for Sp.Ed parents to gather, provide support, share best practices and brainstorm around challenges. Mondays, 1-2:30pm. Link to register and link to suggest agenda items.
  2. Special Education Parents/CPS Teachers Community Meeting: Tuesday, March 31, 2020, 1-2:30pm. Link to register. This Zoom meeting provides a chance for Parents and Teachers in the CPS Special Ed Community to connect, discuss challenges, what works and what is possible during the school shut down and this time of physical distancing.

RYH Special Ed Tip of the Week (during the Coronavirus school shutdown)

For many CPS parents who have children with disabilities, it is all they can do to keep their kids fed, sheltered and safe during this school shut down -- and that is enough. Period. For those parents who want to take on the new reality of “distance learning,” do not be afraid to contact your child’s special ed teacher by email and ask for guidance and assignments via email or website link. 


Language Access Volunteer Sign Up - not for RYH use only

This is a form to collect volunteers who are able to potentially provide translation and interpretation of news around services that will be offered. We want to use this to coordinate both with officials and grassroots groups. This is not just for RYH specific messaging - we see this as a broader tool that will be shared with other folks doing mutual aid or sharing critical news. Link to volunteer. Thank you for considering.


Please welcome our new RYH board member, Maggie Baran!


Maggie Baran has over twenty years of experience as a corporate learning and development professional in educational publishing, financial services, and in the non-profit sector. 

She attended Chicago Public Schools and comes from a family of dedicated CPS clerks and civil servants.

Baran holds a degree in Organization Development from DePaul University.

A native of the West Edgewater neighborhood of Chicago, she currently resides in Jefferson Park with her family. 

We're really excited to have Maggie join the RYH board!


RYH wins award from Crossroads Fund!

We are truly honored to receive the Ron Sable Award for Activism from Crossroads Fund!  Unfortunately, their annual benefit, Seeds of Change, has been canceled because of COVID-19. Crossroads plans to host a week of virtual celebration via social media starting soon. We’ll be sure to share more as information becomes available. 



Chalkbeat Chicago: This video of Chicago teachers and students singing “Bohemian Rhapsody” gives us joy Senn HS

Block Club Chicago: West Side High Schoolers Launch Podcast To Stay Connected, Informed During COVID-19 CPS Shutdown Clark HS

Chicago Tribune: Column: A Lincoln Park high schooler’s beautiful idea to help hungry students, battered restaurants during coronavirus shutdown Lincoln Park HS  | Note: If you would like to connect in these efforts, please email We can put you in touch with the organizers. 


In other COVID-19 news: the press tries to answer all of our questions

Chalkbeat Chicago

Coronavirus upheaval puts Chicago students’ college journeys in jeopardy

Chicago will no longer notify schools families of positive COVID-19 diagnoses from district beginning March 31

Illinois’ education board moves to waive tests, ponders missed school days

Chicago Public Schools put its school ratings on hold. But will the coronavirus disruption propel a push to overhaul them?

Frontline workers at Chicago schools feel anxious but still report for duty

Should Chicago let students video chat with teachers? Pandemic tests technology restrictions


CPS hands out over 500K meals in 3 days of coronavirus closures: ‘This is something great Chicago’s doing for us’

Tips from Chicago teachers for parents thrust into home schooling by coronavirus

Chicago Tribune

So far, school days lost to the coronavirus in Illinois don’t have to be made up. But how long can that continue?

As coronavirus shutdown extended, CPS families brace for another month without classes: ‘It’s not just school that’s canceled’


Schools FAQ: Are Statewide Standardized Tests Canceled? This gets updated. You can submit questions. 


Worth a read

Mercedes Schneider’s blog: La. Teacher of the Year: An Open Letter to High School Seniors During Coronavirus Crisis and Class of 2020: Redeem Your Senior Year

The New York Times: Opinion: I Refuse to Run a Coronavirus Home School

In The Public Interest blog: COVID-19 is putting the value of public schools on display


Chicago COVID-19: People who are educating all of us

Chicago Tribune: Column: Sign language interpreter at Illinois coronavirus press conferences thrust into spotlight: ‘The information is critical. It’s literally life or death.’ Michael Albert

NBC 5: Chicago Doctor’s Blunt Speech About COVID-19 Hits Home Across the Country; Read Her Full Speech Video & transcript of Dr. Emily Landon’s speech, published March 21

Sun-Times: Dr. Allison Arwady, Chicago’s coronavirus point person, has chased disease outbreaks worldwide

Sun-Times: These 2 women are leading Illinois’ coronavirus response Dr. Ngozi Ezike