CPS continues to insist on rolling back last year’s health and safety protocols even as the delta variant is filling hospitals around the country with children at the highest rate since the pandemic began and Chicago cases top 400/day — last year’s cut-off for remote learning.
- 7:00 a.m Wed., August 18: Press conference on CPS safety needs with CTU rank and file, officers on first day back at school for clerks. Juarez high school, 21st Street and Laflin, one block east of Ashland.
CHICAGO — Chicago’s public schools are scheduled to reopen to students in less than two weeks — even as Mayor Lightfoot’s CPS team continues stall on agreeing to even the minimum safety standards landed last spring to reopen elementary and high schools, while the delta variant continues to drive deadly COVID increases in Chicago.
CPS rank and file members and officers will gather at 7:00 a.m. Wednesday at Juarez High School, on 21st street and Laflin, to talk about the critical need for more safety protections for students and school staff — including CPS’ ongoing refusal to use school communities as anchors for vaccine access in underserved communities.
The need is real. The CTU submitted a Freedom of Information request to the Chicago Department of Public Health for numbers of vaccinated Chicagoans by age, race and ethnicity — and the numbers through August 2 are grim. Barely one in four Latinx children and barely one in ten Black children aged 17 and under have been fully vaccinated, even as Chicago’s Black and Brown communities continue to struggle with lower vaccine rates and higher sickness and death than Chicago’s more affluent neighborhoods. 90% of Chicago’s students are Black and Brown, and the neighborhoods in which many students live were already deeply burdened by decades of civic disinvestment, poverty and neglect.
This week, Chicago topped 400 cases/day — the cut-off last fall for schools to revert to remote learning. The mayor’s top health official and interim CEO indicated on Tuesday, however, that the plan remained to reopen schools to all students on August 30.
Yet CPS continues to insist on rolling back last year’s health and safety protocols even as the delta variant is filling hospitals around the country with children at the highest rate since the pandemic began. The mayor’s CPS bargaining team also continues to reject anchoring vaccine efforts in trusted school communities as a way to get shots into more vulnerable residents. CPS also continues to reject any additional recovery investment in school and student supports that could help children recover from more than a year of trauma from the pandemic. CPS is set to receive $2 billion in federal COVID recovery funds — but has only committed to spending about a fourth of that, with few of those dollars actually going to beef up desperate needs in school communities.
CPS could ensure that every single school has a full-time nurse during the pandemic, as well as a social worker and a librarian, for about 3% of incoming federal funds — roughly $70 million. The mayor’s hand-picked board has rejected those investments. Instead, CPS has renewed its widely criticized contract with Aramark for school cleaning, spent $100 million on a new curriculum package without consulting CTU teachers or support staff, and rejected any equity investments of federal COVID funds to shore up supports for students and schools denied equity for years before the pandemic.