CHICAGO — One of the Chicago Public Schools’ largest charter operators closed a campus Tuesday to all unvaccinated students for two weeks after three separate COVID-19 cases were discovered.
The swift closure at the Zizumbo School in Archer Heights gave the Chicago Teachers Union an opportunity to praise the school’s management and criticize how Mayor Lori Lightfoot and CPS are handling COVID-19 in traditional schools.
Lightfoot defended the city and Chicago Public Schools by saying plenty of precautions are in place and the CTU has agreed to the measures.
“In terms of COVID-19 cases in the schools, it’s something we take very seriously,” Mayor Lightfoot said. “I will remind you that CPS spent over $100 million retrofitting classrooms, ventilation, making sure there is sufficient PPE hand sanitizer, and a range of measure in conjunction with the members of the CTU, which they ratified now several times.”
But after three COVID-19 cases were discovered in three separate classrooms at the Zizumbo School, CTU said charter schools are in better position to act fast.
“While educators and families attempt the manage the chaos at many traditional, neighborhood schools, with Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s CPS plans for layered mitigation failing in buildings across the city, unionized charters have taken a different approach,” CTU President Jesse Sharkey said. “Through agreement with the Union, charter campuses across the city implemented sweeping safety protocols that range from more school nurses to COVID-19 testing, screening and school-wide quarantine where necessary.”
According to Acero Charter School officials, administrators at the school became aware that there were three cases of COVID-19 on Monday.
“The infectious source of these cases was not readily identified through contact tracing. In alignment with our Memorandum of Understanding with CTU and COVID-19 management protocols, the school swiftly transitioned to remote learning,” officials said in a statement.
CTU said it’s a blueprint for how they would like CPS to operate.
“I know that there are some parents who have expressed some concerns, and the way to overcome that is to communicate and communicate as effectively as possible, and I believe that CPS has done that,” Lightfoot said.
A CTU spokesperson said that negotiations with the district over safety plans for traditional schools continued Tuesday, but no agreement was reached.