Parents proved especially crucial when schools shuttered in spring of 2020 and learning shifted considerably throughout the COVID-19 crisis. Through our Parent-Led Education Recovery series in 2020-2021, we engaged Chicago parents through focus groups and surveys to understand their feelings about teaching and learning, their access to the internet, devices, and technology support, communication with teachers and schools, and overall satisfaction with their children’s learning experiences.

Kids First Chicago released three issue briefs in August 2020, March 2021, and August 2021, detailing parent perspectives on remote learning, back-to-school plans, and the future of education.

Installment #1

Insights from Summer 2020 Focus Groups

Kids First Chicago and its Parent Advisory Board hosted 16 focus groups in July 2020, engaging 163 Chicago Public Schools (CPS) parents. Our focus group participants shared what families needed for effective learning during the COVID-19 crisis. Four of these focus groups were held in Spanish, and two were specifically aimed at parents of diverse learners.

During these in-depth sessions, parents and caregivers shared their difficulties and successes with remote learning, their hopes and concerns about sending their children back to school in the fall of 2020, and their priorities to recover lost education time. Most of all, parents shared strategies and solutions to ensure that remote learning was effective, return-to-school was safe, and education recovery was equitable for all students.

At the Time of the Survey

Our focus groups were hosted during the summer between CPS’s 2019-20 and 2020-21 school years, roughly four months into the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to COVID-19, CPS had been conducting fully-remote learning since spring 2020.

Read the August 2020 Brief

Read Here

Installment #2:

Insights from Winter 2020-21 Citywide Survey

Kids First Chicago partnered with NORC at the University of Chicago to conduct a citywide survey of Chicago Public Schools (CPS) families between December 2020 and January 2021. The survey was administered via web and phone and in both English and Spanish. The final sample included 415 respondents (400 by web and 15 by phone). 376 parents took the survey in English and 39 parents took the survey in Spanish. Parents provided information about children across grade levels (33% Kindergarten-2nd grade, 22% 3rd-5th grade, 20% 6th-8th grade, 25% high school).

Our survey covered many of the major themes that our July 2020 focus groups explored. Findings were organized into five categories: (1) Communication, (2) Technology, (3) Teaching & Learning, and (4) Satisfaction. We also asked what learning plan parents preferred at the time of the survey.

At the Time of the Survey

Our first survey was administered during the second quarter of CPS’s 2020-21 school year, roughly four months into the school year and nine months into the COVID-19 pandemic. District schools closed for winter vacation from December 21, 2020, through January 1, 2021. The City of Chicago’s COVID-19 Positivity Rate averaged 7.8% between December 15, 2020, and January 15, 2021. It’s worth noting that parents were asked to reflect upon their experiences during the current school year only and not asked to compare to their experiences in a pre-pandemic time.

Read the March 2021 Brief

Read Here

Installment #3

Insights from Spring 2021 Citywide Survey

We conducted a second citywide survey, once again in partnership with NORC at the University of Chicago, between May and June 2021. The survey closed on June 21, 2021, and ultimately included 404 respondents. Our sample included 362 parents who took the survey in English and 42 parents who took the survey in Spanish.

Our final survey report highlighted parents’ reflections on the entire 2020-21 school year and asked them to compare their experiences to a pre-pandemic year. Parents and caregivers consistently highlighted bright spots in the midst of the uncertainty of schooling during the pandemic -- and recommended the preservation of key education innovations even as CPS transitioned back into full-time in-person learning.

At the Time of the Survey

Our second survey was administered during the second quarter of Chicago Public Schools’ 2020-21 school year, roughly eight months into the school year and 15 months in the global COVID-19 pandemic. CPS conducted fully remote learning between April 2020 and February 2021. In April 2021, the district welcomed back roughly 90,000 students to a hybrid learning schedule.

The City of Chicago’s COVID-19 daily positivity rate ranged from 3.1% on May 17, 2021, to just 0.4% on June 21, 2021. COVID-19 vaccinations for anyone 12 years and up were widely available through City and private vaccination sites.

Read the August 2021 Brief

Read Here