With 20 days until the school year begins, we again left today’s bargaining session with more questions than answers. CPS insists on stripping away the layered mitigation strategies it agreed to in the spring, even as Chicago’s Public Health Commissioner is sounding the alarm about the Delta variant.
CPS made headlines last week when it said “we are committed to testing 100 percent of CPS students and staff each week.” But in bargaining today, district officials walked that back.
In fact, CPS proposes to offer testing to all adult teachers and staff but not to all students. Limited student testing would be triggered by the citywide transmission rate and, except for sports, only offered to unvaccinated students.
While today’s transmission rate would trigger student testing, we believe any testing program needs to cover vaccinated students as well.
Even though Dr. Allison Arwady, Chicago’s top public health official, says the Delta Variant is “very much here,” CPS wants to scale back the health screenings and quarantine protocols it agreed to in the spring.
The district astonishingly asserts that a student’s attendance at school is evidence enough of a health screening at home. Only people who’ve never set foot in a school could come up with that one.
And, CPS now suggests that vaccinated students do not have to quarantine after a close exposure to the virus, ignoring the mounting evidence that the vaccinated can and do transmit COVID.
We have been crystal clear from day one. We need to maintain the layered safety measures we agreed to in the spring. We need an extensive vaccination and testing program. And we need the mayor to use some of the record $4 billion at her disposal to increase staffing and supports in our schools and throughout our city.
The clock is ticking and we need to see some real leadership from our district. Last week, we invited CPS, the mayor and her handpicked Board of Education to attend an open bargaining session with us but they refused. We will go forward with that session tomorrow, with or without them. But parents and educators have been in this position before — providing the leadership our district needs, when it’s needed the most.
Our students’ families deserve transparency and accountability from their school system. If the mayor and CPS won’t give it to them, we will. Please join us at 4 p.m. tomorrow and continue sharing our Invest in Schools Petition.