IAFC in the News – Chicago Is Stepping up Its Preschool Advertising. Will Families Return?

April 28, 2021

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…Enter into the complexities of preschool enrollment another wild card: Just how the pandemic will affect enrollment in the neighborhoods most impacted by COVID-19. Even as more adults have access to a vaccine, the timeline for children under age 16 remains unclear, and some families — particularly those in some neighborhoods on the South and West sides that saw positivity rates crest past 20% in winter months — may be reluctant to send their children into group settings.

“It’s difficult to say how these schools and programs will bounce back,” said Marquinta Thomas, the director of referrals and outreach for Illinois Action for Children, the nonprofit that fields parent phone calls for the city’s Early Learning application and hotline. “There’s a lot of support for that to happen, but trust has to be there for these communities for people to return.”

Thomas said her team has fielded the typical questions about preschool enrollment and a new layer of pandemic-related ones. Will programs offer remote learning options? (The public school district has said that it will continue to offer remote learning more broadly, even while it pledged a full five-day return for students in fall just this week. It’s not clear yet what community providers will do.) Will all teachers be vaccinated? (The district has offered vaccinations to all teachers, but hasn’t been able to fully track how many have taken them.) When will vaccines be available for young children? (Public health experts have said early 2022, but the timeline isn’t quite clear.)…

Read the full Chalkbeat Chicago article for more.