CPS elementary school mother dies of COVID, family says caught from daughter through school

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A 44-year-old Chicago woman has died of COVID-19, which her family says she caught from her daughter through cases at her Chicago Public School.

Shenitha Curry died last Thursday, and her family believes she got the virus from her daughter, who is a fifth grade student at Jensen Elementary School on the West Side. Curry was not vaccinated, but her sister places the blame squarely on CPS.

"If my sister had to live three blocks west of where we are standing right now, and crossed over into Oak Park, it would be different," said Jasyma Johnson, sister. "Because they have different safety protocols, different safety measures in place."

Jensen is a small school with just under 300 students. It has had at least eight confirmed COVID cases since the start of the school year. Until Monday, 11 of the school's 17 classrooms were quarantined. Most are now back in class, and Tuesday staff from Lurie Children's Hospital were on hand to administer COVID tests to students and staff who requested it.

Parents and teachers there said they are upset at the way COVID protocols have been enforced after several cases among the student body were recently diagnosed, and the Chicago Teachers Union said two students' mothers died from the disease just last week.

"I just feel like they should have did it before the kids come to school. Have a truck available, because it's been off and on," said Lavonda Chavis, whose 8-year-old daughter attends Jensen.

While CPS maintains that none of Jensen's COVID cases are the result of in-school transmission, some parents said they'd rather keep their kids at home.

"I am more towards remote learning than them being back until this stuff is under control," said Lasundra Ward, Jensen parent.

Especially when most of the students are too young to be vaccinated, including classmates of Curry's daughter.

"I feel very sad for her, and I know the pain she's going through," said Herny Woods, whose son is in the same class.

For Curry's sister, who spent the day taking care of her funeral arrangements, the choice is clear.

"These kids that contract it and go home and their loved one can't beat it. What does it do to them?" Johnson said. "This is a call for action.

The president of the American Federation of Teachers will be in Chicago tomorrow to tour schools on both the South and West sides, meeting with elected officials, she is expected to address school safety. Tuesday afternoon, members of Jensen's local school council wrapped up what they called a "speak out for safety."
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