CPS students will not be marked absent for missing class due to technical issues earlier in the year, school head says

Students who have computer or internet problems will not be penalized if they have trouble logging into a virtual classroom at the start of the school year, the Chicago schools chief said on Tuesday.

Chicago Public Schools CEO Janice Jackson, speaking at a press conference with Mayor Lori Lightfoot on the first day of school, said the district would be lenient as technology issues are resolved.

“Absolutely not,” Jackson replied when asked if students would be counted as absent due to connectivity or technical issues.

“We work directly with our families. …People are working extremely hard to connect our children. And we’re going to do everything we can to make sure they’re not only counted, but have access to their teachers so they can learn.

Day one hasn’t been without headaches for parents and teachers, with numerous social media posts about them being cut off from the internet, or their kids accidentally leaving a video meeting and not being able to to come back. Others said their first day experience went more smoothly than expected. Families experiencing technical issues can call the CPS Support Hotline, open 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, at (773) 417-1060.

Jackson and Lightfoot were also asked about the massive screen time required by the district’s remote learning plan, which has angered some parents and teachers.

“When these teachers engage their students, and we’ve seen that time and time again today, they’re going to engage,” the mayor said. “If teachers have a lesson plan, a mission and a path to follow, students are going to be connected and they are going to learn.”

Jackson said CPS’s remote school plan allows time away from the screen so students can work independently.

“We know the guidance is grade level appropriate,” she said. “Obviously we’re going to learn a lot in this environment, but we’re confident that the advice we’re offering is in line with best practice and screen time research.”

Many parents, teachers and even a school board member have said that live online learning for several hours each day is not ideal for young children because research shows they need an adult. with them to make their online experience productive. It also imposes a burden on working-class families when parents are asked to shoulder the enormous responsibility of constantly watching over their children when they have to worry about their own work.

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