CHICAGO — Chicago Public Schools leaders could move classrooms back to remote learning in the city’s least-vaccinated neighborhoods if COVID-19 cases continue to surge, the district’s CEO announced Tuesday.
The district will evaluate cases “school by school, classroom by classroom” starting Jan. 3, when students are slated to return. CPS CEO Pedro Martinez announced the approach, which he called “conservative,” as Mayor Lori Lightfoot said the city will require bars, restaurants, gyms and other venues to start checking patrons’ COVID-19 vaccination status that same day.
“You are gonna see us transitioning more classrooms to remote when we see [cases rise]. As a parent, I know how difficult that is for families, but we have to take that conservative approach, especially as cases are rising,” Martinez said.
Martinez called on parents to get their children vaccinated and said the district will start getting 10,000 PCR tests per week in January.
“We have to protect our staff; we have to protect our schools,” he said.
Shutting down every CPS schools in the district again is not a viable option, Martinez said. There is no evidence to show the March 2020 shutdowns of schools “has done anything to counter the spread of the virus,” he said.
But there is evidence the shutdowns had a profound impact on students that “hurt their mental health, we’ve hurt their social and emotional wellbeing and we’ve hurt their academics in ways that we’re still trying to understand today,” Martinez said.
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