COVID reported in over 50 schools since CPS started forcing pre-K and special ed cluster teachers back on January 4, as CPS reopening scheme draws increasing criticism and District stalls on releasing student in-person numbers.
- 4:00 p.m. TODAY, Tuesday, Jan. 19: press availability with locked out educators, parents, allies. 31st and Kedzie, Chicago.
- 4:30 p.m.: Car caravan for safe schools. to depart from 31st and Kedzie.
CHICAGO—As Black and Brown neighborhoods across the city continue to bear the disproportionate burden of the pandemic, most families are keeping their children out of public schools amidst mounting safety concerns over CPS’ plan to reopen. But CPS is denying thousands of students access to their educators, by locking out their teachers from virtual classrooms because they’ve continued to teach remote learners safely from home classrooms rather than unsafe buildings.
Educators, parents and allies will gather for a brief press conference at 4:00 p.m. TODAY, Tuesday, January 19 at 31st and Kedzie, before launching a Little Village Car Caravan for Safe Schools to demand that CPS put its dangerous reopening plan on hold while it bargains with the CTU on a truly safe plan to return to school buildings. Participants are decorating their vehicles with solidarity messages to teachers locked out of Google Classroom in Little Village and citywide. The overwhelmingly working class Latinx neighborhood is home to thousands of frontline essential workers and multi-generational households — and among those hardest hit by the pandemic.
One in eight residents of Little Village are testing positive for COVID today. The area’s positivity rate has been in double digits since mid-October, and was a staggering 16.5 percent on January 18. Yet while most students remain remote, CPS is insisting that every pre-K and special education cluster teacher return to unsafe classrooms — even if none of their students are returning. Locked out teachers want to teach, as they have been for months — and students and parents want their teachers back remotely, as well.
The CTU has tallied reports of COVID cases in more than 50 CPS schools in the wake of the school district’s move to start forcing a second wave of workers back into unsafe buildings on January 4. Those returning teachers continue to report shortages of PPE, cleaning supplies, portable HEPA filters for their classrooms and more.
Schools across Europe are closing in the wake of a much more infectious variant of the COVID virus that has now been identified in Chicago, with new research showing that schoolchildren, including young children, can play a significant role in spreading the virus to staff and families. A Montreal study has found that reopening schools in the fall fed an alarming spread during the pandemic’s second wave. A Swiss study shows that the country’s decision to close schools was one of the nation’s most effective measures in reducing COVID spread. In states like New York and Texas, data shows that teachers and staff where school buildings are open have higher COVID infection rates than their surrounding communities.
CPS continues to drag in releasing the actual number of students who’ve returned to in-person learning.