Chicago Teachers Union President Jesse Sharkey said Wednesday that he’s confident an agreement can be reached with Chicago Public Schools officials to reopen the city’s high schools.
The union leader warned of more complexities with older grades that could take time to sort out, and he stressed high schools won’t look nearly the same as pre-pandemic times. But he sees a path to a deal in bargaining that started Wednesday.
“I am confident that we can be delivering in-person education for folks in high school,” Sharkey said in an interview. “I do not know exactly what that will look like. I know that we have to keep safety in mind.
“I’m pretty sure it doesn’t look like what high school looked like before the pandemic,” he said. “There’s a bunch of things about high school that make it more challenging than elementary schools. Which is a reason why across the country so few high schools have actually reopened. Even places that ran school all fall, like New York, haven’t reopened high schools.”
For one, high schools typically have hundreds more students than elementary schools and higher classroom-to-classroom mobility with different subjects in separate classrooms — both factors making it harder to develop hybrid schedules and the 15-student pods used in the K-8 plan. Older students also are used to a greater level of independence.
“You’re three-quarters of the way through a school year, and so it’s very hard to then reprogram a school,” he said. “You’ve