‘The Need is Real’

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Education

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Education

CTU members urge CPS to address safety protocols

By: Ashmar Mandou

Members of the Chicago Teachers Union gathered Wednesday morning at Juarez High School to discuss additional safety protections for students and school staff. “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. Ninety percent 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,” shared CTU in a statement to press.

According to the CTU, 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 three percent 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.”

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