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🍎 What happened this year in Chi schools?

By Sidney Madden | @sidney_madden_

CPS Year in Review

It’s the last day of class for Chicago Public Schools, so we’re looking back on the district’s third pandemic school year. A lot happened!

Masked and bundled students leave a red elementary school door in Chicago's Logan Square neighborhood
Students leave Darwin Elementary in Logan Square neighborhood on Jan. 3, the first day back to school from winter break. (Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

🦠 COVID deja vu: As the first day of school approached, the district was once again at odds with the Chicago Teachers Union over COVID mitigations. Sixth grade teacher Norma Noriega described a sense of anxiety heading into the school year.

🚌 School bus shortage: Thousands of CPS students were without reliable transportation for much of the school year due to a shortage of bus drivers. Things began to improve by February, though some students still didn’t have bus service, Chalkbeat reported.

🛑 Here we go again: Students were out of school for nearly a week when CPS canceled classes in response to a CTU vote to switch to remote learning after winter break. The district and union clashed over, you guessed it, COVID safety protocols.

📈 Numbers game: In January, parent Jakob Ondrey noticed a change in the way CPS was reporting COVID cases. It meant parents, students, and teachers effectively didn’t know the state of COVID-19 in their schools. The district said it would reevaluate how it reported its data.

😷 Masks come off: Two months after the conflict over safety measures, CPS announced it was going mask-optional. The new policy garnered mixed reviews from parents, the Tribune reported. But Illinois schools outside of Chicago had already nixed mask mandates due to a February court ruling.

💵 Where’s the money? CPS CEO Pedro Martinez was on the defensive this spring after the district announced budget cuts for some schools despite an influx in federal relief dollars. The district restored $24 million in funding following the outcry, the Sun-Times reported.

🔢 Review Chalkbeat’s 2021-2022 school year by the numbers
👉Attend a public hearing this week on CPS’ 2022-2023 budget.

🚰 Metropolitan Water What?

Metropolitan Water Reclamation District Commissioners appear on the ballot, but host Jacoby Cochran has always wondered: What does the MWRD even do?

To find out, we asked commissioner Kim Neely Du Buclet, who’s not up for election this year.

📰 Newsfeed

Heat advisory in effect today. Temps are expected to hit the high 90s, but it could feel as hot as 110 degrees. The city has six cooling centers open during extreme heat. [National Weather Service]

Indiana guns in Illinois. Opponents here are worried that a new Indiana law making it easier to get a gun there will impact Illinois. [WBEZ]

Check out a piece of wooden history. City crews unearthed a stretch of wood paving blocks during road work in Gold Coast. Wood was used to pave over muddy roads before the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. See them before they’re paved over. [Sun-Times]

🌳 Team Park or Beach?
Humboldt Park (Jacoby Cochran/City Cast)
Oakwood Beach (Jacoby Cochran/City Cast)

Ahead of Jacoby Cochran’s and Shermann “Dilla” Thomas’ essay battle Wednesday, we’re asking you to weigh in on what’s better — the city’s parks or its beaches?

Julio L. from Pilsen: “I’m Team Parks because that lake got corpses in it. 💀”

Julia from Hyde Park: “There’s tremendous spiritual power in Lake Michigan….In my most difficult times, I’ve always turned to the healing power of the lake for cleansing and release….So yeah, I’m a beach girl. ⛱️”

📲 Our inbox and voicemail are open for more hot takes. Email, or text/call 773-780-0246.

🏆 Trivia Answers

Thanks, friends, for playing along with Monday’s trivia. It wasn’t so hard now, was it? As promised, here are the answers: 

  1. The Twinkie was invented in 1931 by James Dewar, a manager at the Continental Baking Co., later known as the Hostess Cake Co., in River Forest.
  2. Four mayors have died in office: Richard J. Daley and Harold Washington died of heart attacks. Carter Harrison and Anton Cermak were assassinated.
  3. House music was born at The Warehouse, a West Loop nightclub, where the city’s Black and brown gay community popularized the genre.
  4. The powerful Reinsdorfs have owned the Bulls and the Sox since the 80s.
  5. Garfield Park was first called Central Park but later renamed in honor of the late president. 

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