As city braces for dangerous cold wave, educators fear students will confront another round of broken school boilers, frigid classrooms.
CHICAGO, January 28, 2019—In November, dozens of public schools struggled to provide heatfor students, and CPS has chronically struggled to keep schools warm and sidewalks and grounds clear of snow and ice. This afternoon, a weather alert went out warning of dangerously cold wind chills ranging from 20-30 degrees below zero Tuesday and as low as 55 degrees below zero expected from Tuesday night through Thursday morning.
This morning, schools as far afield as Drummond on the West Side to McClelland and Mount Vernon on the South Side were reporting problems that ranged from no snow plowing or salting to heating issues. As Chicago braces for what promises to be the most epic cold wave in years, educators fear conditions could be much worse—and heating and safety failures could be much wider—this week. The CTU has asked members to provide the union with updates as issues develop, and President Jesse Sharkey released the statement below, in the wake of word from CPS that they planned to keep schools open this week—but failed to provide information on how CPS would address the potential for another round of freezing conditions in public schools.
“We know from members that schools across the city—both District-run public schools and charter schools—have struggled to keep the heat on this winter or keep sidewalks and parking lots plowed and salted in weather emergencies. Now the District has informed educators and parents that schools will remain open until further notice—but failed to provide assurances that our classrooms will be heated or our school grounds will be safe.
“No child should have to wear a coat in school just to stay warm or risk falling just to enter the building—yet CPS and the mayor who runs the District have shown repeatedly that they’re not up to the task of providing these most basic of needs. The mayor announced a billion dollar capital plan in July—yet schools that have been neglected for years on the city’s South and West Sides still struggle to keep their classrooms warm and their heating systems working.
“It’s criminal for this mayor to force children to attend school under what is shaping up to be extremely dangerous weather conditions this week, when we know the mayor continues to fail to invest in the basic infrastructure we need to provide safe, warm learning conditions. Some of our children travel miles on public transportation to schools, yet there’s no guarantee from CPS or the mayor who runs the District that those schools will fit for students. Clearly based on reports we’ve received from members today, the neglect extends beyond our schools to our public streets. We will closely monitor conditions in our schools this week—and if even one child encounters health risks because of poor facilities conditions in our schools during this weather emergency, he should be criminally charged with child endangerment. He’s the architect of the condition of our schools, and he will be held accountable if any of our students come to harm from his chronic neglect.”