Chicago Public Schools says millions spent to make schools safe with students' return next week

CTU continues to voice safety concerns

Sarah Schulte Image
Thursday, January 7, 2021
CPS says schools safe for students to return
We are getting the first look at some redesigned classrooms as some of Chicago Public School's youngest students head back to class on Monday.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago Public Schools says millions have been spent on making sure kids and teachers will be safe in school during the COVID-19 pandemic as some of CPS' youngest students head back to class Monday.

Pre-K and cluster classes are ready to go for safe return of students next week at South Shore Fine Arts Academy with desks spaced six feet apart with individual school supplies, disinfectant wipes, an air purifier

"It would be a lot more communal in a regular setting, but it is a little separate, but feels like school," said Vicki Brown, CPS principal.

Showing off all the safety measures put in place is part of Chicago Public Schools public campaign to gain the confidence of the school community, especially teachers who may be hesitant to return.

RELATED: Chicago Public Schools pre-K, special needs teachers return to classroom; some teach outdoors citing safety concerns

Some teachers at Brentano Math & Science Academy bundled up and set up tables and computers outside so they could still teach virtually.

"The district has invested over $100 million in school reopening," said CPS CEO Janice Jackson. "I think that shows good faith that we are trying to do this in a safe manner."

But it's not good enough for the Chicago Teachers Union. CTU continues to fight a reopening.

"What about starting the vaccination program, delaying school then extended school?" said CTU President Jesse Sharkey.

CPS CEO Jackson said while the district is willing to be flexible with its plan, the union keeps changing its demands. CTU blasted the district for putting teachers in a position to come to school or take unpaid leave.

RELATED: Chicago Public Schools reopening in-person learning starting in January, school district announces

Chicago Public Schools announced Tuesday that it will return to in-person instruction beginning in January after winter break.

"We have a contractual relationship between the district and Chicago Public Schools," Jackson said. "We are not making anyone do anything."

Only half of the teachers required to report to school buildings Monday, showed,

Jackson says that number has increased since and she is confident enough teachers will be in school January 11 when Pre-K and cluster students return.

Thousands of K-8 staff members are required school buildings on January 25. It's the same day the state labor board is scheduled to take up the union's case.

K-8 students return for a hybrid schedule February 1. Jackson said CPS has the legal ground to open and an enough mitigation strategies to do it safely.

All CPS families were given the option to stay remote.