CHICAGO (CBS) — It’s almost back-to-school time for a handful of districts in the area. While the traditional Bud Billiken Parade was canceled due to the pandemic, some threw parties to kick off the new academic year, but they’re nothing like you would have expected before COVID-19.
Music blasted outside Unity Junior High School West in Cicero on Saturday, as Cicero District 99 staff welcomed a caravan of cars.
Some of the more than 11,000 students and parents from 16 schools in the district drove through to pick up education supplies and pump up student enthusiasm for the new school year.
“We needed a boost. We needed a boost to start the year,” District 99 Supt. Rudy Hernandez said.
As Hernandez explained, the socially distant celebration might be the closest kids get to their teachers for the first part of the year, due to COVID-19
“Every kid has a Chromebook. They have their internet,” Hernandez said.
Schools in Cicero District 99 will begin the first quarter of the year learning online. Then the plan is to split the education to part online and part in-person, or hybrid learning
“There’s a real sadness, no doubt, but I think that we have a support system in place for every stakeholder,” Hernandez said.
“It’s tough. It’s a little heartbreaking that my girls can’t go back to school, but it’s all for the better of the teachers and families as well,” one mother said.
Normally, Yolanda King and her granddaughter, Danielle, would among hundreds of thousands at the Bud Billiken Parade celebrating back to school this weekend, but instead a fraction of that celebrated the beginning of remote learning at Chicago Public Schools in a small parking lot in Roseland.
“Sad kind of, because I miss my friends,” Danielle said.
“It’s not our normal, but for right now it’s good for the kids to still be able to perform and practice,” King said. “I’m at home with my granddaughter, and I’m gonna do all that I can to help her learn remotely, and help her with her school work.”
King said Daniel’s mom is a healthcare worker, helping to combat COVID-19 in Texas. So she’s helping her granddaughter back in Chicago; the coronavirus impacting the family in more ways than one.
“Due to the pandemic, I was laid off from work. So I’m able to be there with her,” King said.
Pupils in the pandemic are anxious for the upcoming school year, which might be like no other.
“We’re all in this together. We’re all trying to build and maneuver any way we can,” King said.
Schools in Cicero District 99 begin online learning for students on Aug. 31.
CPS begins the first quarter online on Sept. 8.