Chicago Public High Schools are preparing to reopen this April despite pushback from the city’s teachers union over COVID-19 concerns.
On April 19, the first day of CPS' fourth quarter, those in ninth through 12th grades can return for classroom instruction, though teaching models will vary with each school, the district announced last month.
However, the Chicago Teachers Union expressed concern about the reopening less than two weeks away as COVID cases continue to rise, and said the district should offer vaccinations to students.
"We think that if you want to open high schools, you need to be offering a vaccine program or at least putting in place and not just saying, 'catch as catch can,'" CTU President Jesse Sharkey said.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said the city is working to vaccinate as many people as possible, but that the future of vaccinations depends on supply.
Regardless of pushback, CPS released a statement earlier this week saying the target start date for high schools remains April 19 and that "it is disheartening to see, yet again, that CTU is choosing to create uncertainty."
"I see no basis for delay," Lightfoot said. "And it's my expectation that we're going to be opening up high schools as indicated by CPS."
As negotiations continue between CPS and CTU over reopening dates and schedule changes, among other points, each high school is setting up individual in-person learning plans dependent on school size.
On Monday, Illinois COVID vaccine eligibility expands to anyone age 16 and older, except for in the city of Chicago. The city will open COVID vaccine eligibility to all residents age 16 and older on April 19, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Tuesday.
Then April 19 date is the deadline President Joe Biden set for states to make all adults eligible for the vaccine, moving up his previously targeted date of May 1.
Staff and students in pre-kindergarten through 8th grade have all returned to classrooms in last month under the district's phased plan to resume in-person learning.