Illinois teachers fear that schools could become epicenters for spreading the virus.
With COVID-19 cases skyrocketing across Illinois, one of the state’s largest teachers unions, the Illinois Federation of Teachers, has released a statement calling for an immediate stop to in-person teaching. On Monday, November 16, Chicago’s stay-at-home advisory came into effect strongly urging everybody to avoid leaving home for all but work, school, and medical care. Later that day the teachers union stepped in imploring Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker, the Illinois Department of Public Health, and the Illinois State Board of Education to enforce the closure of school buildings and instead make remote learning the norm for the foreseeable future.
According to the Illinois Federation of Teachers President, Dan Montgomery, new rules based on science and metrics need to be introduced in all 852 school districts as soon as possible. The lack of a clear plan for educational institutions is endangering communities but instructions and rules that apply to all schools will ensure the safety of all students, educators, staff, and communities of Illinois.
“There are plenty of superintendents and school boards that would like to call it, but they’re worried about the public’s reaction,” Montgomery said. While “some districts have stopped in-person instruction for kids, but they still want the adults in the building, even though we know that a number of people have gotten sick.”
With no outline coming from the state Montgomery has described the current situation as “a mishmash, with no uniformity.” No instructions mean that many school districts are “ignoring science and endangering the health and well-being of our students, teachers, and staff. Especially in Black and Brown communities, whose residents have been hit hardest by the pandemic.”Montgomery insists that school districts “want to do the right thing, but they’re getting no clear direction.”
At the time of writing, Governor JB Pritzker isn’t closing schools insisting each school district is adapting in the best way it can.