Janice Jackson, the CPS reopening plan is not good

Janice Jackson, the CPS reopening plan is not good

We are not ready for this.

The time is not right for this.

CPS school reopening is just around the corner. Teachers are to return to classrooms in days, with students coming shortly after. But the buildings are not ready. The plan is not sufficient.

Where do I even start? I don’t even know where to start.

Should we talk about the the nonsense claim that air filters will be in every classroom? How about the lie that schools will all get a “deep cleaning”? How about the recommendation that there should be good air circulation in every room?

Because all rooms where there will be students in fact don’t have air filters. So far from getting “deep cleanings,” some classrooms have scarcely been cleaned at all and teachers are being told to come clean them up. And air circulation in buildings whose windows haven’t been able to be opened in decades? Good luck with that.

Or should we talk about this chestnut: “They opened the schools in Europe so why can’t we?”

Here’s why: In Germany, just as a for instance, they opened the schools with guidance to go back to remote learning if cases per 100,000 exceeded 50. You know what we have here in Cook County?

362 cases per 100,000. That’s right off the Illinois Department of Public Health website. The graph above. That little dotted red line along the bottom is the target rate: 50 per 100,000. We’re, um, obviously not there.

Do you think they would have in-person school in Germany with a case rate of 362 per 100,000? No. They would not.

So please stop yammering about “Europe.”

Should we talk about Chicago’s own initial goals to reopen CPS schools when the city hit a certain test positivity rate? Did you know that the goal in CPS’s own plans was to reopen schools when our case positivity rate was 5%? Do you know what it is now? Over 8%. That’s right off the city’s COVID dashboard. As our test positivity rate has never neared 5%—in fact, some neighborhoods are well over 15% even now—CPS struck that from the plan (like literally removed it from their previously published plans) and changed their goals. Now they seek to reopen when our case doubling time in the city is above 18 days.

Thank God our doubling time in Chicago is now at 70 days. This is good news for the city, but why did CPS change its metric? And do we really want to base school reopening on a measure that tracks case increase?

Should we talk about the number of parents who are clamoring for their kids to go back to in-person school? It’s all we read about in the Tribune, for instance. How the teachers’ union wants to stand in the way of the city’s beleaguered parents because they’re lazy (somehow, here we still are). All parents are desperate for their children to return to in-person learning, so we read, over and over and over.

What do the numbers really say? Way less than half, folks. 37% of parents who responded to the CPS survey (which basically implied that if you don’t choose to send your kids back now you will not have that option available for the rest of the year) chose in-person learning. 33% of Black families chose in-person learning. I know teachers for whom ZERO students chose in-person learning.

But guess where those teachers will be?

That’s right. In the classroom.

Does this make sense? Does any of it make sense? Does it make sense that CPS offered waivers for teachers who are at high risk for COVID, then granted few to none? Does it make sense that Janice Jackson’s main response to teachers who have a problem with this reopening plan is: if you don’t come back, you’re fired? Does it make sense that teachers will now have to teach both in-person students and remote students at the same time? Does it make sense that schools will now have COVID rooms where kids with symptoms will be sent and be monitored by. . .“staff”? Does it make sense that students should spend as little time outside as possible? Or that they should eat in their rooms? Or that teachers “can’t have rugs”—are they now supposed to pull up wall-to-wall carpeting themselves? Or that—for preK—all manipulatives and learning toys must be removed? Or that little consideration has been given to the needs of many students—CPS is prioritizing the return of special needs students—for clear face masks that would need to be worn by teachers and students in order for them to access information?

CPS’s plans don’t even square with the City of Chicago’s own COVID recommendations about anything.

I really don’t know where to start this conversation. But I can cut straight to the end. Janice Jackson and Mayor Lightfoot: I know you are dead set on moving ahead, regardless of the flaws and illogic of this CPS reopening plan.

So can you please prioritize VACCINATING TEACHERS? This question should not even need to be asked. This should already be the plan.

And in a world with a good school reopening plan, well-thought-out and safe, it would be.


Follow me on twitter @Julie Vassilatos



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