School Leaders and the Stay-at-Home Advisory

On November 13, 2020, I sent the following letter to the Chicago Board of Education and the district's CEO. The Mayor and the Deputy Mayor of Education were copied as well.


President del Valle and CEO Jackson
During the Board’s August meeting, I articulated principals' concerns with the report-to-building requirement. CPS responded with procedures allowing administrators to request exceptions to the requirement. While this was a step in the right direction, it is no longer adequate to meet the demands of the current crisis. In the wake of the City’s new stay-at-home advisory, CPAA has been fielding calls and emails from principals and assistant principals. They are frustrated with your silence regarding what this stay-at-home advisory should mean for them. The City’s COVID Guidance for Employers states “all businesses must evaluate which employees are able to work from home and are encouraged to facilitate remote work from home when possible.” It is undeniably possible for administrators to work from home during this surge.

One of the most frustrating parts of the expectation that school leaders not work remotely is that the district has failed to articulate a reason for this policy. If you’re going to require people to risk their health each day, don’t you think you should tell them why?  With the stay-at-home advisory going into effect next week, the policy and the absence of a reason for it are frustrating for most school leaders. With that understanding, I encourage you to articulate a reason for the policy--a reason strong enough to justify the risk you’re asking school leaders to take. If no such reason exists, I recommend you change the policy. In the spirit of cooperation, I have written a draft letter from you to the district’s administrators. The letter contains the outlines of a new policy.

Dear School Leaders,

We have made a change to the report-to-building requirement for school administrators. This change was motivated by our concern for you and your family’s health in light of the surge in COVID-19 cases and out of respect for your ability to determine for yourselves those times that you need to be onsite. Our new requirement is for one person from your leadership team to be onsite from one to five days per week at your discretion. Principals should let their network chiefs know which days they plan on having an administrator in their buildings. Network chiefs should accept those plans unless they can articulate a compelling reason to expand the schedule (by no more than one day). We hope this new policy gives you the flexibility to manage your schools in a way that meets student and family needs while also accommodating your childcare, family, and health needs during these extraordinarily difficult times. 

I sent the above draft to a few principals to get their feedback on the policy implications. One responded, “If they were to send that letter out today, I would literally be in tears with joy!”

I encourage you to make this policy change because it is smart; it is in line with city and state guidelines for residents’ health and safety, and it will bring some measure of joy to several hundred school administrators in the process.



I sent the above letter out of concern for the physical and, frankly, emotional health of all school leaders. I hope the district's response demonstrates some capacity to be concerned for you as well.