On Monday morning, the students got off at a far away stop outside the Southside Vocational College High School. This was a yellow bus. A staff member used a handheld scanner to take their temperature. Once cleared, each student walks alone through one of the designated entrances of West Englewood School.
On Monday, the first batch of students from Chicago Public Schools returned to the classroom, which was nearly 10 months. Although more than 6,500 pre-kindergarten and special education program students chose the "study in school" option, Monday's CPS did not provide the final number of students.
In March last year, when the novel coronavirus prompted the closure of schools across the state,
. Since then, more than 213,000 Chicago residents have tested positive for the virus and 4,200 people have died. Over the weekend, city officials updated their home guidance, restricted gatherings, and urged Chicagoans to stay at home as much as possible.
The school is an exception.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot (Lori Lightfoot) contrasted with the current situation in March, saying that CPS is closed every day when it is a new step into "uncharted territory."
"Since then, we not only have more data and resources, but we also have vaccines, and have pointed out the path to hope to end this terrible crisis," Lightfoot's press release at Daws Elementary School in Ashburn Said at the meeting.
City officials believe that educators can start receiving vaccinations in February or March. In response, the leaders of the Chicago Teachers’ Union were skeptical about the implementation of the touted security agreement in the region and believed that it was worth the wait before reopening schools. Although negotiations between the two parties continue, CTU stated that if teachers cannot reach an agreement as soon as possible, they may strike and encourage employees who choose to continue working remotely in accordance with school district orders.
According to data provided by CPS, about 71% of teachers and 81% of super-professional staff are expected to return to school on Monday, slightly higher than the proportion of teachers who did so last week. More than 500 teachers are missing. Another 235 employees failed their health checks.
CPS said that for 145 staff who did not show up on Monday, the school district will lock them out of Google Classroom and email accounts, and will withhold wages from Tuesday until they report to the school. This is among the 210 employees who received the final warning last week.
A statement provided by spokesperson James Gherardi said: “The school district will continue to monitor employee attendance and take steps to hold employees who fail to go to work in person without a valid reason.” “The vast majority of educators needed to return to school have Returning to work, we ensure that we are accountable to staff who choose not to support returning students."
The union and the school district painted different pictures of where the first day went. The union shared dirty surfaces and rumored photos that were supposed to welcome students back, while district and city leaders shared images of schools that looked good.
After visiting Dawes, chosen by 48% of qualified students, Lightfoot talked about "clean and well-ventilated classrooms" with enough space for 6 feet of social distancing, hand sanitizer and masks.
Dawes principal Mary Dixon accompanied reporters through the classroom renovation and provided accommodation for returning students.
In the hallway, signs on the walls and floor provide social distancing reminders. The drinking fountain is covered. Preschoolers sit at a small desk with clear three-sided partitions. This provides an additional obstacle when a boy’s mask slides under his nose and when the mask falls for lunch. Hand sanitizer always seems to be within reach.
Hygiene and space are even part of the lesson plan.
But of the school’s nearly 1,000 students, only 40 were originally scheduled to return on Monday, and with the second wave on February 1, this number rose to 300.
Dixon said that it is a "wise way" to arrange small classes on time. Dixon is used to reading in the building from band practice at 7:30 in the morning to art classes in the late afternoon.
Dixon said: "It must be very quiet here. We are very happy to bring students back to school for some on-site face-to-face learning." "...After experiencing the eternity of online teaching, our family (mostly from low Income families) finally have a chance to return to the classroom."
Dawes' parents, Maria Vasquez, said that she did her best to help two preschool children with distance learning, but they needed the routine and stability of personal learning. Vasquez said that Monday's health check and temperature check reconfirmed her decision and her child's feeling of safety.
Shortly before the students arrived at Frederick Stock School in Edison Park, where 80% of qualified students opted in, the staff pushed welcome signs into the snowy yard. Teachers play music and wear masks and sometimes masks to welcome students. "Welcome home!" One said.
Stock is expected to have 171 students, which is one of the largest student groups in the city. Katherine Sromek (Katherine Sromek) took her 4-year-old child to school. She said that with three other children at home, the family sometimes dealt with some messy Internet when trying to work and study from home. .
"I'm very uncertain, but we have to start somewhere," Sromek said.
The selection rate for the first wave of Southside Vocational Schools is the same as the area average, 38%. Nicole Smith felt uncomfortable with her daughter in the school bus, so she drove her off the bus. Despite this, she is cautiously optimistic that school officials have taken appropriate protective measures.
"Believe it or not, I'm very encouraged," said Smith, a health care worker who has worked with COVID-19 positive patients. "...The temperature check and probe are the same as the ones I use in the hospital where I work."
Smith said that distance learning delayed her daughter's schedule, which exacerbated depression. She said: "She is autistic, so she is really punctual, so this is a difficult time."
Smith said that she provided her daughter with spare facial masks, hand sanitizer, a pack of wipes and her own cleaning supplies.
"We have classes every week," Smith said. "I will judge this at the end of this weekend. How does she feel? Will she continue to do this? Or do we want to return to distance learning?"
The teachers’ union has been calling on teachers to continue distance learning until the vaccine is available, while members continue to protest and press conferences on Monday. Community members and activists gathered at the main entrance of Whittier Elementary School around 7 am, hoping to speak with their parents to pick up their children.
"Children and parents should not be scientific experiments," said Javier Ruiz, a member of the Pilsen Alliance, which has mobilized to urge parents to oppose the current reopening plan.
But by 9 o'clock in the morning, no children have appeared at school, and it is expected that there will be about two dozen. Byron Sigcho-López.
Sigcho-López said that many parents in Pilsen and other Latino neighborhoods are essential workers. They have no choice but to send their children to school. He is one of the overwhelming majority of members of the Chicago City Council. They signed a letter calling on CPS to reconsider its reopening plan until the school district reached an agreement with the teachers' union.
Ald, Chairman of the City Council Education Committee. Unsigned Michael Scott Jr. held a meeting on Monday. At the meeting, his colleagues urged officials from the city's health department and CPS to urge the reasons and details of the reopening plan. Fearing that they were barred from attending, members of the Teachers Union requested another meeting for them to attend with the Chicago Association of Principals and Administrators.
CTU and CPS continue to disagree on the indicators to guide the decision to open or close schools, but for now, as long as the new cases since the start of the second peak in October have not doubled in a short period of time, The school will remain open for more than 18 days.
The region has also launched a voluntary COVID-19 "surveillance test" program, which will help monitor cases among asymptomatic workers.
CPS CEO Janice Jackson said that participants will be tested monthly and about one-fifth of school-based staff opt out of the program. She said that if the employee’s quick test result is positive, the school district will provide them with a PCR test at the school that day. The school will communicate the results to family and colleagues, and the district will share city-wide data on its website.
She said: "This is one of the consensus we reached with the teachers' union."
She cited other measures taken in the area to improve building safety, such as purchasing air purifiers, and said that CPS exceeded the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Chicago Department of Public Health.
Jackson said she was delighted to see some of the youngest and "most vulnerable" students in the region studying in person on Monday, as well as "the professionalism and dedication of our teachers that appeared here today."
She also thanked the educators who are still working at home and added that the region hopes to bring all students back in the coming months.
Jackson said: "There is a small group of people who are just resisting, and the purpose and focus of me today is not any resistance, but to ensure that we can educate our children."
Jackson said that any teacher who is suspended or who refuses to access his Google suite will be warned and called on CTU members to follow the school district’s interpretation of the contract.
Jackson said: "They went on strike on the contract we asked them to perform, which shows that they must educate the students we asked them to do." "This is very important work.... Thousands of students are going to school today, I hope to see To their teacher."
For any parent who adopts a "watchful for changes" approach, Jackson said: "I want to make sure that you have done your best to ensure the safety of these schools."
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