CHICAGO — Locked out of remote learning Wednesday, teachers are among those speaking out about how they feel following the events of Tuesday night.
A late-night decision by Chicago Teachers Union to switch to remote learning created issues for several CPS families and teachers. While some educators showed up for work Wednesday, others told WGN News that the union’s decision to pause in-person learning might be the best option to ensure the safety of students and themselves.
“I think people can see through the mayor’s rhetoric and understand it was district leadership who dropped the ball on this one,” Halle Quezada, a third-grade teacher at Boone Elementary, said.
Quezada says she’s not too fond of remote learning as a mother and as a CPS instructor but said she prefers “it to sick kids, sick families and overwhelmed hospitals.”
Quezada voiced concerns to WGN News about the availability of rapid COVID-19 testing.
“Last night, I mean look, as a teacher and a parent, I saw Chicago’s top doctor stand next to the mayor and tell all of us that the Chicago Department of Public Health does not have any more rapid tests.”
A shortage in rapid tests, combined with rising cases fueled by the omicron variant, means Quezada is one of many not comfortable with in-person learning.
“It’s a pause on in-person to protect each other so that we can go back in-person teaching,” Quezada said.
While the third-grade teacher remained home Wednesday, an online lockout meant school officials would dock her pay.
“Cancelling of classes not only hurts families and it’s trying to compel teachers back into unsafe buildings by giving us more instability in the middle of a pandemic,” Quezada said.
CPS data shows 72 Covid cases reported amongst adults when classes kicked off again on Monday after the winter break. There were about two and a half times as many cases reported amongst students the same day. Reported cases dropped yesterday to 48 and 89 amongst adults and students, respectively.
CPS statistics also revealed that over 90% of CPS staff are vaccinated.
Kathryn Rose, a CPS teacher, says she believes schools are safe. However, she came to class Wednesday with her three children in tow because she had nowhere else to take them.
“I feel like the basic mitigations recommended by public health officials are being met at the schools that I attend and my children attend,” Rose said.
The Chicago teacher feels like any decisions in the future should be on a school-by-school basis. Additionally, Rose said she worries about the devaluation of public education when such upheaval can happen hours before the school day begins.
“I’m very concerned about the dismantling of public education,” Rose said. “As a teacher, I feel supported. Not so much as a mother. Not so much as a parent.”
As for Quezada, says she would feel better if there was more access, citywide, to COVID-19 testing.
“If you can’t get one in your neighborhood, how can you feel safe sending your child to school?”