Students, Teachers Expected to Return to CPS Monday

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Education

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Education

By: Ashmar Mandou

In an open letter from Chicago Public Schools Chief Executive Officer Janice K. Jackson and Chief Education Officer LaTanya D. McDade, CPS plans to begin opening school buildings for families who choose to return following winter break. Students enrolled in pre-k and moderate and intensive cluster programs will have the open to return on Monday, Jan. 11th, 2021, and students in k-8 will be able to return on Monday, Feb. 1st, which has left the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) in a predicament.

CTU, which hosted several Zoom press conferences throughout the week, continues to vocalize their concerns over health risks from in-person learning. “Thousands of rank and file educators, clinicians and support staff want the right to continue working remotely because they or a family member are at higher risk of illness and death should they contract COVID-19. CPS’ response has been to refuse to allow educators to ask for an accommodation if family members are at risk — and even to deny members with serious personal health risks like brain cancer the right to work remotely,” said in a statement from CTU on Wednesday.

“Half of the pre-k and special education cluster teachers in elementary and high schools scheduled to start teaching from school buildings Monday refused to work in-person on January 4, electing instead to continue teaching students safely by remaining remote. Workers who did go in on Monday have also reported serious safety issues at their schools — and a reluctance to return to buildings that lack even the most basic safety protocols that CPS has been promising for months — but has yet to deliver to buildings.”

Weighing in on the conversation, Congressman Jesús “Chuy” García issues his statement regarding in-person education.  “While we value education and the opportunities it offers students from all walks of life, it is critical to make educational decisions with a health consideration during this global pandemic. I echo the concerns from many educators, parents, and students in my district troubled by the in-person return to the classroom. Chicago, like many urban centers, continues to suffer from an alarming number of COVID cases and deaths. Latinos comprise the largest share of virus cases in the city, and unfortunately, many of the COVID hot zones are found in my district. It is no coincidence that working-class, Latino, and Black families are disproportionately impacted during this pandemic — the same families who represent our educators, parents, and students.”

CTU members reported issues that ranged from no sinks or hot water sources for handwashing to lack of PPE and filthy classrooms. Most schools still have no nurse or health care worker on site during the pandemic, and CPS has continued to refuse to test aging school ventilation systems for their ability — or failure — to prevent spread of the virus.

According to CPS, to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, every classroom will have a HEPA air purifier that will remove 99.99 percent of airborne mold, bacteria, and viruses. By placing a HEPA air purifier directly in the classroom near students and staff, we can better capture particles, clean the air, and reduce the risk of indoor transmission of viruses and bacteria. Families are able to check the status of their child’s classroom by visiting,

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