CTU Begins Door-Knock Outreach to Increase Vaccination Rates for Eligible Students

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Local News

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Local News

By: Ashmar Mandou

In anticipation of the 2021-2022 school year ahead, members of the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) are dissatisfied with Chicago Public School’s handling of COVID-19 vaccinations and the “lack of commitment” to connect with families in hard-hit communities. On Wednesday, CTU held a press conference in the Lawndale community to unveil their door-knock plans to connect families with COVID-19 vaccinations. The outreach is part of CTU’s Summer Organizing Institute, a four-week intensive program that trains members in the grassroots organizing which is one of the pillars of the Union’s work.

“The CTU was the first union in the country to win student and family vaccinations as part of a reopening agreement ratified in April. Since then, the Union has sponsored a series of vaccine opportunities and partnered with CPS on additional events. But vaccination rates for the neighborhoods in which Chicago’s Black and Brown public students live — neighborhoods that have been devastated disproportionately by the pandemic — still lag behind vaccination rates in predominantly white neighborhoods,” stated the CTU in a release to media.

Earlier this month, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced their approach to vaccinate eligible students by providing ample vaccination sites throughout the city. “My top priority is helping our schools prepare to provide five days of in-person instruction for students this fall and we are spending our summer working to engage students and families to prepare for the upcoming school year,” said interim CPS CEO Dr. José M. Torres. “Schools are trusted pillars of our communities, and as a district we are uniquely suited to help expand vaccination opportunities, which helps create the safest possible learning environments at our schools.” 

Currently, all students ages 12 and older are eligible to receive the Pfizer vaccine and students 18 and older are also eligible for the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. As part of the district’s commitment to equity, its vaccination efforts in the coming months will prioritize serving communities that have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic as well as targeting outreach for students in temporary living situations (STLS) and other vulnerable populations. At the core of these efforts, the district will convert three of its current school-based vaccination sites—Chicago Vocational Career Academy in Avalon Park; Michele Clark High School in Austin; and Theodore Roosevelt High School in Albany Park—to specifically support CPS students and families. These sites are currently open weekly from 9:00 a.m. — 1:00 p.m. throughout the summer. CTU calls on CPS for an 80 percent baseline vaccination rate for eligible students, which they maintain is a crucial factor for a smooth reopening this fall.

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