CHICAGO — Chicago Public Schools is gearing up for in-person learning even as vocal protests from the Chicago Teachers Union continue.
CPS CEO Janice Jackson and other district leaders held a virtual briefing Tuesday to discuss plans for high school students which focus on mathematics in particular.
“Under this early high school math initiative we are dramatically expanding the number of students that will have access to algebra in elementary school,” Jackson said.
Educators and parents are preparing for the return of some CPS students on January 11 even as the CTU and Mayor Lori Lightfoot continue to wage war.
“The line that has been drawn in court proceedings by the teacher’s union, which is to say, ‘we decide and no one else,’” Lightfoot said. “‘We decide and no one else’ doesn’t give parents options.”
CTU filed a challenge with the Illinois Education Labor Relations Board seeking an injunction against the planned January reopening. The Board meets on Thursday.
Lightfoot says it’s critical to get back to in-person classes because Black and Latinx students have not been equitably served.
“There is no substitute for in-person learning and what I worry about which I wish they would worry about is: what is going to happen when our kids fall even further behind?” Lightfoot said. “What are we going to do about the achievement gap that is widening every single day?”
The CTU spoke out as soon as plans to reopen were announced. Among the union’s demands: enforceable protocols on masks and health screening, regular Covid testing and regular inspections of school buildings.
In a statement, CTU Vice President Stacy Davis Gates said: “The question isn’t one of desire, or whether it’s possible to return to school buildings… The question is whether CPS and the mayor have done everything necessary to keep students, families and educators safe.”
City health officials say they’re confident students and staff can keep schools safe.
“School is a safe setting from a Covid perspective for children and for adults,” Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said.