But in a hard year, we will need even more.

We welcome Chicago Public Schools acknowledging the urgent need for parents and families to vaccinate their children, and providing the time and opportunity to do so. I know many of you are exhausted by the daily challenges to safety and security you confront in this pandemic. CPS’ decision to close schools and give all school staff paid time off is welcome relief from the stress of trying to protect and educate students without the resources to address their needs.

But we cannot stop here. Our students are crying out for support in every way possible. Nothing during a pandemic is normal, but let’s be clear: Nothing before the pandemic was normal. A school district that finds difficulty in running schools pre-pandemic, will truly struggle during a global health crisis. And that’s exactly what happened.

I know, however, that you are moving mountains and doing the very best you can. So are your students. So let’s make sure we continue to push CPS in the right direction in providing robust outreach, school-based vaccinations during flexible hours, and collaboration with families on engagement and incentives. Give children socio-emotional support, healing spaces, and strong athletic, music and arts programs. And the mayor and her Department of Public Health must do more than the status quo in providing ease of access to vaccinations, which still has our eligible student population vaccination rate under 50 percent.

The more that CPS, in partnership with our union, addresses the totality of safety and wellness, the more hope we provide our students, and their families and communities.

The Chicago Teachers Union represents more than 25,000 teachers and educational support personnel working in Chicago Public Schools, and by extension, the nearly 400,000 students and families they serve. The CTU is an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers and the Illinois Federation of Teachers and is the third-largest teachers local in the United States. For more information please visit the CTU website at www.ctulocal1.org.