Mayor’s CPS team promised to move $535 million out of $2.6 billion in COVID relief to schools, but students see no resources or relief on the ground as COVID rates tick back up.
- 9:00 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 17: Press conference on chronic lack of cleanliness, staffing, supports. CPS headquarters, 42 W. Madison. B-roll visuals will showcase what schools have (mice, roaches, filthy bathrooms) versus what they continue to ‘have-not’ — from a social worker to a school nurse.
CHICAGO — Overflowing garbage cans and filthy toilets, students without teachers — or even substitute teachers, children crying out for social emotional supports but going without —while many schools still have no fulltime nurse in a pandemic: these are just some of the challenges facing school communities starved of supports this fall.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and her CPS team have received $2.6 billion in federal COVID relief to directly support CPS students and families. This summer, the mayor’s CPS team promised to funnel roughly $535 million of those funds into schools through a spending scheme they’ve named ‘Moving Forward Together‘. But educators at school communities from Frazier Elementary in Lawndale to Englewood STEM say their students aren’t seeing that support on the ground.
CTU rank and file educators will take their concerns directly to Mayor Lightfoot’s hand-picked board of education, at a 9:00 a.m. Wednesday press conference at CPS headquarters, located at 42 W. Madison in downtown Chicago, before the board begins its monthly meeting. Educators are joining parents and students to demand that CPS address ongoing issues of cleanliness, safety and staffing.
Participants on Wednesday will bring visuals that focus on neighborhood schools’ ‘haves vs. have-nots’, where schools may have mice and dirty classrooms — but have no school nurse, social worker or science teacher. On Tuesday, rank and file CTU educators staged a day of action before and after school to reach out to parents about the lack of a safety agreement, persistent shortages of resources and supports, and a desperate lack of staff.
On Tuesday, the mayor’s top doctor Alison Arwady admitted for the first time that COVID transmission has occurred in schools. Yet even as COVID again tops over 400 cases/day in Chicago, CPS continues to reject reinstating practical safety tools that kept students and families safe last spring when schools reopened to in-person learning.
Instead, Mayor Lightfoot’s school executives have rolled back CPS’ promise of weekly COVID testing for students and staff, while CPS’ contact tracing program continues to drag. CPS continues to adamantly reject any support for either a district-wide safety metric to indicate when there’s too much COVID in schools to learn safely in-person or a robust, school-based vaccination program.
For South and West Side neighborhoods already hammered by decades of austerity, racist disinvestment and civic neglect, CPS’ refusal to fund needs on the ground will only intensify the inequities that the pandemic has exposed. The Union, instead, is demanding a right to recovery for all that centers the needs of students and families who’ve been forced to bear the brunt of the financial hardship, sickness and death that the pandemic has driven over the last two years,