Chicago Teachers Union Says CPS Needs Stronger Covid Protocols; Cite the death of staff as an example


CHICAGO – The Chicago Teachers Union is reiterating its concerns about an increase in Covid-19 cases in Chicago public school classrooms.

In a press conference Monday, CTU cited examples of Carnegie Elementary School located at 1414 E. 61st Place in Woodlawn. CAT said there were not enough cleaning, ventilation or testing staff, shortcomings which they said contributed to at least 17 cases of covid at school in the past two weeks – an assertion that the CPS and the mayor deny.

CAT says Jonl Bush, a special education class assistant, recently died after testing positive for the virus. CTU and Bush’s family said he was fully vaccinated and tested positive the Tuesday before Thanksgiving.

Bush’s mother, Claudette, was at the press conference on Monday.

“I’m not just hurt, I’m angry,” she said. “Tuesday afternoon they told him he had COVID, Friday my daughter was calling me to tell me my son was gone.”

Across the district, around 5,500 students and staff were in quarantine over the weekend due to exposure issues.

Stacia Scottis Executive Vice-President of SIEU Local 73. Bush was a member of his union.

“If they had the same security measures as in Spring 21 and which the mayor herself admitted, we would be in a very different situation,” Scottis said. “They canceled the security measures.”

Teacher calls for a return to distance learning. Others call for a school vaccination site and regular screening of more students.

“I’ve seen your mayor stand up over and over again and say, ‘Go back to school.’ It’s certain. We cleaned them up. Well, Mrs. Lightfoot, that’s not sure, ”said Claudette Bush. “I don’t know what the solution is. And I know Covid is devastating the world, but it’s not safe in these schools because Jonl Thessius Bush is dead today. “

Mayor Lori Lightfoot responded in an unrelated event on Monday afternoon.

“It’s a bit sad that when someone is dead they use it as an opportunity to score political points,” she said. “I am very confident in the Covid mitigation plan that CPS has put in place.”

The CPS released a statement Monday that read, in part, “Chicago Public Schools extend their deepest condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of elementary school employee Andrew Carnegie who died at the end of the month. last… The safety and well-being of our staff and students remains a top priority in Chicago public schools. The CPS Office of Student Health and Welfare and the Chicago Department of Public Health (CRPD) have worked hand in hand to keep our schools safe since the onset of this pandemic. Over the past two weeks, together, they have investigated several recent cases within the Carnegie community and have found no evidence of widespread or uncontrolled school transmission. “

They said they will hold a two-part vaccination event in Carnegie from 10 a.m. to noon on December 13 and again on Monday, January 3, 2022.

The full CPS statement follows:

Chicago Public Schools extend their deepest condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of employee Andrew Carnegie Elementary who died late last month. The deceased employee joined the district in August 2012 and last worked as a Special Education Class Assistant (SECA) in Carnegie. While the tragic death of this employee on November 26 shocked and grieved us all, the overwhelming weight of scientific evidence confirms the truth that vaccination remains the most effective weapon and protection against the virus.

The safety and well-being of our staff and students remains a top priority in Chicago public schools. The CPS Office of Student Health and Welfare and the Chicago Department of Public Health (CRPD) have worked hand in hand to keep our schools safe since the onset of this pandemic. Over the past two weeks, they have jointly investigated several recent cases within the Carnegie community and have found no evidence of widespread or uncontrolled school transmission. There are many strong layers of protection in place at Carnegie, and these help keep students and staff safe and protected. This primary school is open and students who are not in quarantine are required to attend an in-person learning. There is no public health recommendation or obligation to close this school. The CPS and the CRPD will continue to closely monitor cases and test results and communicate any updates.

The district will continue to make COVID-19 testing available to all consenting students and staff in the weeks leading up to the vacation. The CPS testing opportunity will take place on Wednesday, December 8, 2021. CPS has strengthened its testing capacity to ensure that we can provide this support to the Carnegie school community while continuing to test across the district.

The CPS will also be offering a two-part vaccination event in Carnegie from 10 a.m. to noon on December 13, 2021 and again on Monday, January 3, 2022. Vaccines are the best way to protect everyone from COVID-19, and they are available to all Chicagoans aged five and over. COVID-19 vaccines are safe, work extraordinarily well, and are widely available.

  • CPS provided crisis support to students and Carnegie staff following the staff member’s death and will continue to provide ongoing support.
  • Closing a school unnecessarily out of fear can cause serious damage. Misinformation is also contagious, as we have seen, and it also causes harm. Excluding children from school harms families and makes students less secure; it pushes children into informal, last-minute and unstable learning and child care spaces that have fewer COVID-19 protections in place.
  • This can worsen the community spread of the virus. Decisions based on fear often have unintended and harmful consequences.
  • CPS has regularly tested students at Carnegie and switched distance courses when needed.
  • On Wednesday, December 1, 2021, the CPS administered 129 COVID-19 tests in Carnegie that resulted in eight cases, and affected classes were switched to distance learning. Two days later, on December 3, thanks to a Walder grant, the CPS partnered with Lurie’s Children Hospital to administer 56 COVID tests, all negative.
  • They plan to return on Tuesday to offer testing to quarantined students.
  • More than 7.8 billion doses of this safe and effective vaccine have been administered worldwide, preventing serious illness, hospitalizations and large-scale deaths.
  • At the same time, effective COVID-19 mitigation measures remain crucial: masking, social distancing, clean hands, and staying home if you’re sick. These measures save lives.
  • Finally, the school has undergone additional cleaning and disinfection over the past few days to continue to provide a safe learning environment for students and staff. CPS will continue to address cleanliness issues with targeted cleaning and additional resources.

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