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CPS students walk out over COVID safety concerns – NBC Chicago

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CPS students walk out over COVID safety concerns – NBC Chicago

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On Friday, Chicago public school students across the city walked out of their classrooms to protest COVID-related safety concerns, with some ending up downtown to demonstrate outside the CPS headquarters.

“Many of us are worried not only about our health, but also about the health of our teachers, the health of our janitors, even the health of our administration,” said Ana, a student who is discharged.

Many students said they would prefer to learn remotely due to the recent spike in COVID cases.

“There’s no way my school can ever be truly safe,” said Lux, a student who exited, “that’s why we’re calling for choice in learning. We think it should be choice whether you can be hybrid, remote or in-person.”

Hundreds of students gathered outside the CPS headquarters downtown, as students from schools ranging from Senn High School on the north side of town to Solorio Academy High School on the southwest side spoke out.

“We have to take a stand now,” said Ivan, a student who came out. “Who protects us? We protect ourselves.

The students said they deserved to be included in conversations about their safety during this pandemic.

After four days of missed instruction, CPS and the Chicago Teachers Union concluded negotiations and students resumed in-person learning on Wednesday. However, some students said CPC and the teachers’ union overlooked their concerns.

Organized by Chi-RADS, the Chicago Public School Radical Youth Alliance, students from at least 30 schools were scheduled to go out Friday afternoon.

As part of Chi-RADS ‘full list of applications, students are asking CPS to provide each student with a personal laptop, personal tutors outside of school hours, and full funding for arts programs, among other requirements.

A letter detailing the latest COVID security protocols was sent to CPS families on Thursday, which included information on the newly agreed KN95 masks available to students and city staff.

“Our goal throughout this process was both to get our students back to in-person learning as quickly as possible and to avoid work interruptions for the remainder of the school year,” said the mayor of Chicago, Lori Lightfoot, at a press conference Monday.

CTU President Jesse Sharkey called the negotiations “unpleasant” and said that while the deal was far from perfect, the union should be proud of the deal reached with city officials.

“It’s not a perfect deal, but it’s something we can keep our heads up on,” he said at a press conference on Monday.

On Monday evening, CTU announced that its distance learning decision would be put on hold due to the deal, with a vote from grassroots union members on the draft deal expected this week.

CPS CEO Pedro Martinez said the new agreement comes with new metrics for when a classroom or school should switch to distance learning, based on student absences or issues with staff.

The city has also added new extensive testing, with a big push from the state, and there will also be additional funding for new PPE and other materials for schools, as well as new contact tracing proposals, according to Lightfoot.

Classes canceled for more than 300,000 CPS students over four school days after teachers voted to switch to distance learning last week in defiance of Lightfoot threats that educators would make a ‘shutdown illegal work “in doing so.

Sharkey defended the decision to vote for the switch to distance learning, saying the union raised many concerns with CPC over the summer and fall, to no avail.

“It became clear to us that the board did not want to negotiate with us over a lot of the key security features that we thought we needed,” said Sharkey.

Sharkey said this was a gradual process of increasing cases, along with the city’s reluctance to install more robust contact tracing and testing protocols that led to discussions on a shift to distance learning.

“The omicron variant appeared at the end of November. It came quickly, and it happened to a school system that didn’t have the confidence, mitigation, or operations in place to deal with it properly, ”he said.

About 73% of teachers voted in favor of a switch to distance learning, but some teachers who did not support the switch continued to come to schools.

City officials have argued that schools are safe with protocols in place. School leaders touted a $ 100 million safety plan, including air purifiers in every classroom. About 91% of staff are vaccinated and masks are mandatory indoors.

This story features reports from The Associated Press.

CPS students walk out over COVID safety concerns – NBC Chicago

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