CTU vs CPS Returning to School

COVID-19 has caused tremendous changes within the city of Chicago. Although lockdowns imposed last spring have lowered, Chicago Public Schools, one of the country’s largest public school districts, has refrained from returning to in-person instruction.

Things may begin to change as administrative officials within CPS and Mayor Lori Lightfoot move to open up specific CPS classrooms within January, specifically those that host Pre-K and those with special needs.

Citing recent studies done by the Chicago Department of Public Health, Mayor Lightfoot has called this a “data-driven plan to reopen.”

However, critics of the reopening plan have been quick to point out the flaws of the research that drives it.

One of the biggest grievances over this CDPH produced research is that studies on positivity and COVID contamination rates were only conducted in Catholic schools, a system that varies racially and economically from that of CPS.

In total, 20,000 students who have participated in in-person learning at Catholic schools were monitored.

The make-up of this group was 44 percent white, 20 percent Black, and 29 percent Hispanic, which substantially differed from CPS’ racial make-up of 11 percent white, 36 percent Black, and 47 percent Hispanic.

This disparity in data size has made those critical of reopening plans even more skeptical, especially those in the Chicago Teachers Union, who for the most part have been in the dark about the specifics of reopening.

“Essentially, we’ve got two different groups within two different organizations working with two different goals in mind,” said Victor LeMoine, a science teacher in Chicago’s west side. “As far as I’ve seen, there’s been no cohesive communication or coalition between the union and CPS to reopen schools.”

Amid contradicting statements from both sides, Chicago Public Schools appears set in its goals to reopen its schools to in-person learning.

Chicago Public Schools is preparing to open its classrooms for grades K – 8 starting February and have yet to decide on any official dates for high school students.