Positive Covid-19 cases have today been reported in several Chicago Public Schools.
Today Chicago Public Schools have begun a phasing-in return of in-person classes a day after Mayor Lori Lightfoot confirmed that Chicago’s stay-at-home advisory will continue through January 22. It’s 10 months since coronavirus forced statewide schools to shut back in March. Under 40% of the preschool through eighth-grade pupils due back have reportedly returned for in-person learning with only a small portion of families happy to send their children back to Chicago Public Schools. Around 6,500 CPS students in pre-kindergarten and special education out of a total enrollment number of around 350,000 were expected to return today.
The news comes as Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s stay-at-home advisory, which went into effect on November 16, 2020, is extended. Again, the advisory refuses to deem itself a mandate but instead asks that residents stay home for all but essential purposes.
The news has only further aggravated a large percentage of parents and teachers who have pushed for a continuation of remote learning. Last Monday more than 30 aldermen penned a letter to Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Dr. Janice Jackson expressing concerns that the plan to reopen Chicago Public Schools “fails to adequately address a number of health and safety concerns identified by parents, students, and staff in light of the ongoing pandemic.”
Janice Jackson, Chief Executive Officer of Chicago Public Schools, then responded to the aldermen with a 9-page letter, claiming that “the unfortunate fact is that despite our best efforts and the heroic work of teachers to make remote instruction effective for CPS students, it is a poor substitute for in-person learning.” Backed by the Chicago Teachers Union at least 50% of teachers refused to go back to their schools last week fearing that it would endanger themselves, staff, and students to which Janice Jackson then announced that they would consequently be considered absent without leave and not be paid.
The Chicago Teachers Union claimed that by being open to teaching remotely and by invoking their rights to work in a safe environment they are by no means constituting a strike. While CPS officials have highlighted million-dollar investments in Covid-19-related school safety The Chicago Teachers Union feels many schools can still not adequately protect students and staff from the coronavirus with cases being reported in schools across Chicago.
[Featured Image from Twitter / @ChiPubSchools]