As Grown-Ups Argue Over Reopening Schools, Chicago’s Kids Lose

Chicago Public Schools students are back in school. 

Well, some of them are. It’s complicated, and getting messier by the minute. 

WBEZ Chicago has more on the fight between teachers and schools on in-person instruction:

About 900 CPS staff members, including nearly 30% of teachers required to work on Monday, were absent, CPS said Monday evening. This includes staff who didn’t come and a smaller number that failed a health screening. The school district says it considers 145 of them AWOL and, starting Tuesday, they won’t be paid. CPS also said it will cut off their access to the school system’s computer system, which means they won’t be able to teach remotely.

Given recent changes made by the Illinois State Senate, the CPS system is now potentially obligated to negotiate their reopening plans with the teachers unions representing their staff. This would be a change from 25 years of negotiations confined to only salary and benefits, not working conditions. 

Unknown as of this writing is when (or whether) these arguments over reopening will end for Chicago’s kids. But make no mistake, these arguments are interfering with kids’ learning, in person or digitally. 

No matter what they decide, they need to find ways to keep their kids learning, fed, and thriving. If it’s a renewed push for better digital learning tools and meal deliveries, so be it. If it’s better infrastructure improvements and PPE for faculty and staff, so be it. But the kids need to be learning one way or another. 

That’s Certainly One Way to Put It

It’s not like teachers worried about in-person instruction don’t have a point, after all. Many have preexisting conditions or are related to those who do, which obviously increases the risk of severe COVID-19 symptoms if they or their loved ones come in contact with the coronavirus. 

That’s why the rest of Chicago remains in the same general state of lockdown limbo it’s been in since the start of the pandemic. 

It’s causing some teachers, like 4th Ward Ald. Sophia King’s educator constituents, to resort to rather colorful metaphors. From Block Club Chicago:

“… Trying to do both remote and in-person will be like … trying to ride two horses with one ass,” King said. “Given that bars, restaurants, parks and even our City Council are closed or remotely operating, given this is a deadly virus, why wouldn’t we wait?”

So something’s gotta give. Teachers must interact with their students one way or another. 

Pick something, Chicago. Ask the school communities and families you serve what they want for their kids. Give your city’s children what they deserve. 

WHAT DO YOU THINK?
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Rob Samuelson

Rob Samuelson

Rob Samuelson is a digital media manager at brightbeam, based in his hometown of Chicago.

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