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E-Learning Is a Nightmare, But We’re Still in a Public Health Crisis

E-learning during the COVID-19 pandemic has been more than a challenge. It’s been a nightmare. Think 80s slasher horror film, where every time you think the nightmare is over, the crazed killer reemerges to make way for a sequel. The next chapter in this particular nightmare is the reopening plan brought to us by CPS. I’ve come to refer to it as: “COVID Denialism: The New Nightmare.”

Why abandon the stance CPS has operated under for the entire time of this crisis: solely through e-learning? Why now, when a new, more contagious strand of the virus is emerging? Even with several vaccines now authorized for emergency use to prevent COVID-19’s spread, we are still not yet stemming the tide that led us to closing the schools in the first place. These vaccines will not be available to the general public for several months. Is CPS’s push to reopen school buildings cautiously optimistic, or flat-out unintelligent?

As a parent of four school-aged children, I understand the want and need for students to return to in-person learning. For 10 months now, our family has had to navigate graduations, transfers, first days of high school, Zoom report card conferences for both elementary and high school students as well as ther day-to-day Google Classroom and its technological issues. My children miss their friends and teachers, and I certainly miss the peace and quiet that came with their absence from the home during the school day. 

It is an understatement to say that navigating my own workload and Zoom meeting schedule along with four other schedules is challenging. Like most other parents, I’ve gained an entirely new respect and appreciation for all my kids’ instructors and all that they do.  While I am blessed to be able to work from home, I understand the child care pressure this pandemic has placed on parents who have to work outside of the home. 

But the fact of the matter is this: we are still in the midst of a public health crisis. 

The value of human life should far outweigh the inconveniences we all are suffering at this moment. Social distancing and continual sanitation is challenging for children under the best circumstances. Add in the fact that they haven’t seen their peers in months and that challenging situation becomes virtually impossible. It simply won’t happen. 

While parents have the option to opt out of in-person learning and remain at home, the teachers don’t. The most inhumane part of returning to in-person learning now is that it places teachers and staff at risk without offering them the same guaranteed opt-out option that students’ families have. Why are we ignoring the voices of those who are tasked with risking their lives to provide the instruction that our children need? 

About half of teachers did not even show up on Monday, when the first stages of the reopening plan began. CTU president Jesse Sharkey has said that they may go as far as a strike authorization vote to prevent teachers from returning to unsafe conditions during a pandemic, but additional bargaining sessions are being scheduled, too. 

The teachers have gone out of the way to adapt their entire curriculum and instructional methods to the current e-learning strategy as quickly as possible to ensure our children are able to learn at home. Parents and students love our teachers and we want them to be safe and supported. CPS is making a critical error–again–by not taking into account first the most important part of any education system: the teachers.

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Ryan Booker

Ryan Booker is a wife and mother of six, ranging in age from 3-16. She is also a corporate accountant, business owner and lifestyle blogger at She currently resides in Hyde Park, but proudly hails from West Englewood, and spends as much of her time as possible giving back to the community that gave so much to me.