As parents, students and educators await Chicago Public Schools’ plans for the second quarter of the school year, the Chicago Teachers Union today launched the first in a series of digital advertisements focusing on the needs of the city’s school communities in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. The first, simply titled “Safe,” examines the impact of COVID-19 through the lens of more than 210,000 deaths in the U.S., and a disparate impact on Black and Latinx communities—the same communities making up the majority of students in the district.
“It’s clear that safety must be paramount in everything we do, from an arbitrator’s ruling that school buildings remain unsafe, to two of the city’s largest charter networks announcing remote learning plans,” a narrator reads. “Mayor Lori Lightfoot and her handpicked Board of Education must work with students, parents and educators to ensure safety for everyone in every building.”
The citywide positivity rate for COVID-19 is currently at 4.5 percent, an increase from last week, with a seven-day rolling average of 442 new cases per day. The positivity rate among Latinx Chicagoans is 21.2 percent (9.9 for Black Chicagoans), and 9.8 percent for children 17 years and younger. All are also increases over the previous week.
CTU rank-and-file members have reported 21 CPS buildings with positive COVID-19 cases since Oct. 1—even as schools remain staffed only with skeleton crews. CPS and the mayor thus far refuse to share with the CTU or the public any data on positive cases since the beginning of the school year.
“CPS and the mayor continue to work in the shadows while the clock is ticking on our school year, and quite frankly, our lives,” CTU President Jesse Sharkey said. “These ads are a way for our union and our members to continue to educate the public on the urgency of this situation, and the need for a clear plan for safety before any more of our members, our children or anyone returns to CPS buildings.”