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From the Head of School: Update on Reopening Plans

July 15, 2020

Letter to families from the head of school:

Dear City Day Families:

I hope this letter finds you happy, healthy, and enjoying, as best you can, your summers. We are nearly two months from our return to school. These days, two months can bring two years worth of change. It is in that spirit that I hope you understand that while the School administration is tirelessly monitoring the situation with the COVID-19 pandemic and working to prepare for all eventualities, I do not believe it is wise to prognosticate what our city, country, or even world will look like on September 14, 2020. That said, I also understand that there is unabating interest and concern about what school will look like this fall and beyond.

Evidence of how quickly things can change can be seen in the recent guidance of the American Academy of Pediatrics, which two weeks ago stated, “the AAP strongly advocates that all policy considerations for the coming school year should start with a goal of having students physically present in school.” This past Friday, the Academy sounded much less committed in its joint statement with the American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association, and The School Superintendents Association, when they stated, “Educators and pediatricians share the goal of children returning safely to school this fall. Our organizations are committed to doing everything we can so that all students have the opportunity to safely resume in-person learning.”

With all that in mind, here is where I stand: Chicago City Day School provides an essential framework in the lives of our young children. It is not just the outstanding academics provided by our faculty that enrich our students, but also the personal interactions City Day students and teachers have with one another that make the School an irreplaceable part of the development of our students. Experts’ main concerns about returning to school center around overcrowded and underfunded schools, specifically high schools, in communities where COVID-19 is still rampant or surging. The first two concerns are not and never will be applicable to the Chicago City Day School. There is also considerable evidence that elementary schools are safer to reopen than high schools. At the moment, Chicago and our local communities are not experiencing a spike and have seen progress in reducing the spread of COVID-19. If that changes, rest assured, our position will be revisited.

So, as of today, we fully intend to provide in-person learning this fall while following the guidelines and input of local government officials, medical professionals, and our own community. We will also make the most of our considerable resources to avoid as much risk as possible with minimal loss to the experience our students get from coming to the School every day. Some examples of our adjustments include (but are not limited to):

  • Wearing masks indoors and at all times when social distancing is not possible;
  • Maximizing the use of our spacious campus, including the properties at 546, 558, and 577 W. Hawthorne Place to allow for social distancing (see pictures below);
  • Limiting students’ movements throughout the campus over the course of the day;
  • Continuing to keep the School impeccably clean;
  • Placing multiple cleaning and sanitizing stations throughout the School;
  • Forming smaller groups, or pods, of students to limit exposure among the wider school community;
  • Evaluating the risks of after-school activities and sports (As of now, Extended Day would not be affected.)
  • Encouraging families to seek testing, when and where available, in the run-up to the start of school.

These are a few of a number of measures that will be taken to reduce the risk of infection but also allow our students to receive the educational experiences they require and deserve.

Finally, we all have our own individual circumstances that affect how we have responded to COVID-19. Whether it be due to our personal health or the health of others in our lives, it is important we all evaluate our own levels of risk and vulnerability as we prepare to return to campus. City Day and I fully respect and understand everyone’s unique situation in regards to COVID-19 and will do everything in our power to address your concerns. Rest assured the School will make decisions that are best for the whole community and be responsive to those who may still have concerns. We will be nimble and flexible. We will adapt and adjust as the circumstances require, and we will continue to offer an outstanding education for our outstanding students.

As of today, you should expect to be back in school on September 14. We will continue to update you as the school year nears and the situation develops. You will receive further information and specific guidelines in mid-August. For now, enjoy your summers, and we look forward to being together on campus again soon.

Best wishes for a continued happy and healthy summer,

Chris Dow
Head of School