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Chicago Public Schools: Give us the best COVID safety!

By Antonio C. Breed, CPS Student and Activist  |  Issue: November 1, 2021
Protesters in Chicago demanding better safety measures to protect people from Covid
Chicago Public Schools was not prepared to guarantee safety to prevent the spreading of Covid-19 says an 11-year-old student. Sadly, two mothers have died.
Photo / Dr. Jesu Estrada

Editor’s Note: There are four rules to mitigate COVID that we all know: wash your hands, stay six feet apart, mask up, and get vaccinated. The problem is that these cannot be done in public schools, yet the City of Chicago mandates students, teachers, and other school personnel to attend in person, regardless of the rules. The weight of counterproductive COVID mitigations falls upon our children. Meet Antonio, an 11-year-old Chicago Public School student. He directly reports his personal story of what happened inside his school during the COVID pandemic. He describes what it felt like to him. He presents a common-sense call to action. — The Editors

Right now, I am a student in 6th grade at Chicago Public Schools (CPS).  For the better part of two years, we were all stuck in a pandemic. And it is surprising to me to see such an unsafe return to school plan.  It should be treated with the same level of respect and care as it was during the pandemic.

However, that is not the case. The first day of class, a child in my homeroom was discovered to have COVID-19 and on Wednesday, we were all doing school from home. Not to mention what it was like in the class all day. At school, we were never in my time there social-distanced, and we had to switch three classrooms per day that were not cleaned between periods. It is not the best place to work and attempt to learn with that ever-looming threat of getting the virus. Along with keeping in mind a good majority of the student body currently, including me, cannot get the vaccine. It is plain reckless to be sending these many unvaccinated kids into a building!

It is disheartening to know that two people I don’t know sit in the same seats as me who possibly could have the virus themselves. It is just adding extra risk to a situation that does not need more risk. I am unhappy knowing the number of problems with the average school day right now, and they are only getting worse and worse. To date, five classes were quarantined at my school! A majority of the students from them could not get vaccinated.

Schools reopening with this lack of level of care, along with about a year to prep for this in schools, is insulting. CPS bet on something so unsafe, it has resulted in deaths and many covid cases. Plus, they have been tracking cases one week late and not notifying staff or parents about cases. At Jensen Scholastic Academy, two mothers lost their lives to the virus. Children, because of a lack of care, do not have a mother anymore. Yet, most schools aren’t putting in the proper safety measures to make sure no one dies.

To me one death is one too many in this pandemic. CPS and our elected leaders have not lowered the risk of getting COVID. Seeing things like the heavy lack of contact tracers does not help us stop this virus.
My call to action is to allow a remote option for students that do not feel safe inside the building and for children that cannot be vaccinated until they can. In my eyes, this is a great way to prevent deaths and more cases helping to stop the spread of Covid-19.

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