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Jensen Elementary’s tragedy and fear

The fear that has engulfed Jensen Elementary — where 11 of 17 classes are in quarantine and two parents have died from COVID-19 — must not be repeated. At this predominantly Black West Side school, CPS officials provided shockingly inadequate contact tracing and support. There was no student COVID testing until after the school was in crisis. To this day, remaining students are forced to continue in-person classes or face attendance penalties and every teacher is required to walk into that school every school day. This cannot become a pattern for our schools.

City Council must hold hearings

Mayor Lightfoot has turned the question of our children’s safety into a grudge match with the Chicago Teachers Union. Her hand-picked school board and appointed CEO rely on mayoral favor for their positions. As the independently elected representatives from all 50 wards, alderpersons must step in. Our school communities are counting on you to stand with us for school safety and serve as a check on this reckless mayor’s power.

Ask your alderperson to join the call for hearings

Weeks ago, Alderpersons Hadden (49), Rodriguez Sanchez (33) and Taylor (20) submitted R2021-937, a resolution for City Council hearings on Chicago Public Schools’ COVID-19 safety plans, protocols and remote learning options. The resolution has been bottled up in committee. Ask your alderperson to add their name as a co-sponsor and reach out to members of the Committe on Education and Child Development in support of the resolution.

We need an agreement for real safety

The Chicago Teachers Union has pushed for safety agreements with the Chicago Board of Education since the moment this pandemic’s emergency measures began. They need a partner at the table. This safety agreement must address the five major CTU safety demands:

  1. Student and staff COVID testing once a week
  2. Contact tracing within 48 hours
  3. Vaccination programs at a minimum of 100 schools per week
  4. Adequate staffing — especially nurses, social workers and substitute teachers
  5. Metrics for safety