Chicago coronavirus cases surge as some parents call for schools to reopen
CHICAGO (WLS) -- Some Chicago Public Schools parents organized rallies Wednesday morning, calling for school buildings to reopen.
The rallies were being held just hours before the monthly CPS Board of Education meeting.
Two rallies were planned Wednesday morning. Dozens of CPS parents marched outside Mount Greenwood Elementary School, holding signs showing their support for teachers inside the classroom.
"I am asking CTU to please work something out with CPS," one protester said.
Those present said they want their kids back in school, with working parents home their children are falling behind.
"It's just super stressful to even be a working parent at this point because in reality the kids come first, but we still have to put food on the table," CPS parent Jorie Wood said.
The Mount Greenwood principal and some teachers inside supported those rallying outside.
"I wish I can open up now for you all," the principal said.
CPS has announced it intends to bring some students back into the classroom, beginning in the second quarter, which starts next month, on Nov. 9.
"The health and safety of our students remains a top priority and as we have said from the beginning, we will be looking at the science," said CPS CEO Janice Jackson.
Pre-K and special education students will be allowed to come back if their parents choose. Later in the school year, CPS officials said they plan to slowly phase in other students.
"Those who are most vulnerable are not getting what they need the most, so that's stressful," CPS parent Lynn Meuris said. "One of my children is in speech therapy; he has not had speech therapy this year."
While some parents agree with the idea of bringing kids back, the Chicago Teacher's Union does not, calling the plan a dangerous strategy. They believe sending young vulnerable children back to the classroom is very risky, especially while COVID-19 cases surge in the region.
In response, CTU has launched its own COVID-19 tracker to help identity schools with positive cases.
"Your recklessness will harm overwhelming the black and Latinx students and workers who live in the neighborhoods that are burdened with sickness and death during pandemic," said Christel Williams-Hayes, CTU recording secretary.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot has said the plan to bring some students back is because many are simply not being served well while learning remotely.
Families whose children are eligible to return first to schools must decide by Wednesday if they will. Those who choose to continue remote learning will not be able to enroll in in-person learning until the third quarter. But those who choose in-person can opt out at any time for any reason.