Chicago Public School students begin summer break after 'challenging year'

Students at Chicago Public Schools are now on summer break.

School ended with a splash at one Back of the Yards high school where students squirted each other with water and enjoyed a cook-out.

The final day of class for about 330,000 CPS students was held Tuesday, after what many consider a difficult year.

"It’s been a challenging year. We’ve been struggling with the pandemic. We’ve been struggling with multiple challenges," said Pedro Martinez, Chicago Public Schools CEO.


The CEO of CPS joined the mayor and other leaders at Peace and Education Coalition Alternative high school to celebrate the final day — and the fact that students were able to learn in-person this year.

There were issues, including a battle with the Chicago Teachers Union over Covid safety that canceled five days of class.

Talks on the plan for next year are expected this summer, and families want to know if school will open on time.

"My answer to that is I would expect so. We're going to have to keep dealing with the features of the pandemic that have been challenging. I think we've got the resources to do it. We need the political will," said Jesse Sharkey, CTU President.

"I’m going to continue, frankly, to fight like hell to make sure our kids are back in school. Our schools are safe," said Mayor Lori Lightfoot.

Another potential squabble is that CTU wants CPS to use Covid money to avoid the layoffs of about 250 teachers and 190 support staff.

"Every single teacher that got a layoff notice is guaranteed employment within the district," pointed out Mayor Lightfoot.

But Sharkey said those jobs weren't stable.

"When you have a librarian who's laid off from a library, they'll get our short-term landing spot. But if there's no library program being opened and they're going to be laid off after, they've got a short-term benefit that will then expire," said Sharkey.

Since kids won’t be in school, a big focus for the city and CPS is getting them signed up for activities to keep them safe this summer.

The mayor urged kids to sign up for the bevy of summer activities available on the "My Chi, My Future" app.

Kids better start enjoying summer fast. CPS starts up again August 22.