Mayor Lori Lightfoot, Dr. Allison Arwady, CPS CEO Pedro Martinez and local pediatricians discussed plans for Vaccination Awareness Day, Nov. 12.
Chicago Public Schools will be closed for classes that day so their students can get vaccinated against COVID-19.
The mayor announced that all city employees will also get two hours of paid time off Nov. 12 to get their child vaccinated. That also includes CPS staff.
"It was a difficult decision for us to cancel classes on Friday," Martinez said. "I know it creates challenges for our parents. We are working with libraries, park district to provide family support."
The decision to close school drew criticism from parents all over social media, not only from working parents scrambling to find child care, but from others saying more time should be spent to educate hesitant parents.
"I strictly believe if they would have communicated with the families this plan, we could have gotten a better response," parent Jazmin Certa said.
Certa said if CPS plans to close schools, vaccinations should be provided at the schools.
"I personally called my doctor for my daughter, my pediatrician and they have no appointments available," Certa said. "I'm guessing a lot of parents have called as soon as they found out there was a day off."
While every school will not be a vaccination site, the city said there will be plenty of places to get the vaccine on Nov. 12, including more mobile pop-up sites.
"We will have more details next week, can tell you we anticipate there will be more than 200 locations across the city," Arwady said.
Just this week, the first Pfizer shots started going into the arms of children 5-11 years old in Chicago after it was deemed safe and effective by the FDA and CDC.
The goal is to make sure all eligible students have the opportunity to get the vaccine as soon as possible, after it was officially authorized for younger children.
"It was a difficult decision to cancel classes on the 12th," said Martinez. "But it's so important as we look at the rest of the school year to make this key investment now to get our children vaccinated."
Martinez said there are no plans to cancel classes for the second shot because there is more flexibility with scheduling the second dose.
CPS said they encourage parents to speak directly to their doctors for an appointment, or to reach out to local pharmacies like Walgreen's, CVS, Mariano's Walmart and Costco pharmacies. CPS also has four regional vaccination clinics:
Families can make an appointment for a CPS clinic or mobile site by clicking here.
CPS School-based Health Centers will remain open for scheduled appointments on Nov. 12, and scheduled sporting events will also go on as normal.
The Chicago Teacher's Union released a statement, saying in part, "We welcome Chicago Public Schools acknowledging the urgent need for parents and families to vaccinate their children, and providing the time and opportunity to do so. I know many of you are exhausted by the daily challenges to safety and security you confront in this pandemic. CPS' decision to close schools and give all school staff paid time off is welcome relief from the stress of trying to protect and educate students without the resources to address their needs."