Chicago’s mayor has called off school as teachers demand more COVID-19 testing : NPR

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Chicago lecturers voted to return to distant studying throughout this newest COVID surge. They are saying they’re scared to be in buildings they usually need extra security protocols. However the mayor says faculties are secure.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:
Public faculties in Chicago have been closed right now due to a showdown between the mayor and the lecturers union. The rationale – COVID security at school buildings. The Chicago Academics Union authorized a measure to go all distant till mid-January. And in response, Chicago Public Faculties locked out lecturers right now, leaving kids at dwelling. From member station WBEZ, Sarah Karp reviews.
SARAH KARP, BYLINE: The battle over college security as COVID numbers surge got here to a head simply yesterday. That is when the union introduced that lecturers and employees wouldn’t be reporting in particular person. Mayor Lori Lightfoot then moved to close them out altogether. Lightfoot says the union can not make a unilateral resolution on distant educating, and he or she sees no motive why college employees ought to really feel uncomfortable going into faculties since greater than 90% of employees are totally vaccinated.
LORI LIGHTFOOT: What I do know from my very own expertise, what I do know from speaking to the general public well being consultants, what I do know in speaking to our CEO is there is no such thing as a foundation within the knowledge, the science or frequent sense for us to close a whole system down.
KARP: However Jesse Sharkey, who heads the lecturers union, disagrees. He says the vast majority of his members are scared to return.
JESSE SHARKEY: Proper now, going into faculties places us in danger, places our college students and households susceptible to contracting the coronavirus. That is a easy reality of the matter.
KARP: For Sharkey, it isn’t whether or not faculties are secure, however whether or not the district itself could be trusted to place sufficient safeguards in place. The union has lengthy criticized the varsity district’s COVID-testing applications, lobbying for extra common pupil testing. It additionally needs unfavorable exams required earlier than college students can return to lecture rooms.
Guardian Elizabeth Ortega (ph) additionally criticizes the district’s dealing with of the state of affairs. She says it has completed a poor job alerting mother and father to attainable dangers. She says she and her sister-in-law solely came upon about constructive circumstances of their kids’s lecture rooms lengthy after they have been uncovered. It was then that her sister-in-law’s whole household contracted COVID.
ELIZABTH ORTEGA: They did not say something. As quickly as they discover – discovered the youngsters that have been constructive with COVID, they waited till they have been actually sick.
KARP: As well as, an at-home testing program spearheaded by the district final month was broadly criticized as being one thing of a debacle. Ortega was amongst mother and father who despatched their kids’s take a look at in on the required day solely to be taught it could not be analyzed on time. Of 150,000 exams given out, solely about 20,000 households obtained outcomes again.
ORTEGA: And I feel that we have to do distant studying for now, a minimum of till the numbers are low, as a result of we can not, like, belief CPS no extra with this.
KARP: However some mother and father are pushing to have their kids again within the classroom. Leonore Colmenke (ph) is dwelling right now along with her three school-aged boys. She says her youngest is a 5-year-old with particular wants. She says when the varsity district was totally distant, he missed out on companies like speech and bodily remedy.
LEONORE COLMENKE: And I really feel like – I am similar to, oh, my gosh, right here we go once more, you already know? Are – is he going to not get the helps that he want (ph)?
KARP: She’s particularly pissed off that college students returned to high school for 2 days this week and now are at dwelling with no college computer systems and no remote-learning alternatives. She’s offended each with the lecturers union and the varsity district.
COLMENKE: It is a sizzling mess. Come on, guys. Get it collectively. You understand, you must have ready – you already know, had a Plan B for like – how can it not be within the state of affairs of circumstances going up? Like, that ought to have been a Plan B.
KARP: As negotiations proceed, mother and father are fighting little one care, and college students are caught at dwelling.
For NPR Information, that is Sarah Karp in Chicago.
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