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Chicago Students Plan Walkout Friday, Say District Is Ignoring Youth Voices About School Safety

The Chicago Public Schools Radical Youth Alliance, or Chi-Rads, is behind the Friday walkout, which will culminate in a 1:30 p.m. press conference and rally outside CPS headquarters.

A car caravan in support of the Chicago Teachers Union takes place around City Hall on the fourth day of no school for CPS students Jan. 10, 2022.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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CHICAGO — Some Chicago students plan to walk out of their classrooms Friday, saying students deserve a seat at the table in negotiations between Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Teachers Union when it comes to their own safety.

The Chicago Public Schools Radical Youth Alliance, or Chi-Rads, is behind the walkout, which will culminate in a 1:30 p.m. press conference and rally outside CPS headquarters, 42 W. Madison St.

“District leaders, administrators, elected officials consistently make decisions about our safety, assuming they know what we need when they do not,” the group said in a news release. “Young people are standing up on Friday to refuse to allow the current conditions of our schools and the lack of COVID-19 safety protocols to continue.”

In the release, the group slams the district’s COVID-19 safety protocols and outlines a list of demands, including more social distancing in schools, better access to masks and tests, laptops for remote learning and more cleaning products in every classroom.

“We are tired of adult leadership not being able to represent the voice of the people that are affected by the sh-t that they’re putting into place,” student Santiago De La Garza said in a statement.

The group also released infographics designed by Chi-Rads member Catlyn Savado to prepare students and parents for the walkout. 

One graphic, directed at CPS parents with young kids, urges them to show support by picking up their kid for “early dismissal” and joining them outside district headquarters.

The walkout follows a turbulent week-and-a-half for Savado and other CPS students, many of whom turned to social media to bring awareness to their experience throughout the standoff between CTU and CPS.  

“There are nine people in my first-period class,” Savado tweeted early Thursday. “This is not school or learning, this is a babysitting center.”

The group wants CPS to increase remote learning options for both students and teachers and has also called for the district to fund “supports outside academia,” such as CTA cards, therapy and more mutual aid for youth struggling with food or housing access.

Chi-Rads is hosting a Zoom “peace planning space” 5:30 p.m. Thursday for anyone interested in the event.

“We stand with ourselves, our own safety, our own health,” the group wrote. “We keep us safe, we keep us loved.”

Chicago Public Schools officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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