School starts in two weeks for Chicago Public Schools, but some parents are pushing the district to make a last-minute change. They want remote learning to be an option.
"We don’t feel safe going to school. We don’t believe the steps they’re taking are ones that’s going to be beneficial for all," said CPS parent Stacey Nichols.
While the district already issued a mask mandate and is requiring all teachers and employees to be fully vaccinated, Nichols doesn’t think that’s enough to protect her daughters in the classrooms from the spread of the delta variant.
“The school can only do so much, each of the schools can only do so much, and they’re trying and I applaud them for that,” she said. “I’m glad they are trying, but they can only do so much.”
Nichols is one of more than 2,000 CPS parents who signed an online petition calling on CPS and the Illinois State Board of Education to take action.
"I am for remote learning because of underlying conditions in my home," said CPS parent Melissa Ares. "Sending kids to school that are not vaccinated is a big concern, you know, it’s a big risk whether others are vaccinated or not."
Raise Your Hand, a group made up of parents, started the petition. It also surveyed 300 parents, 200 of whom said they plan on pulling their kids out of CPS if they’re not given a choice.
"We’re not saying take everyone’s options away because we know some people need their children in the classrooms,” said Raise Your Hand parent organizer Rousemary Vega. "But we also want the families who are not ready, and are requesting, and are crying out for a remote learning option to have that option."
CPS said right now the remote learning option is only open to students with medically fragile needs. Parents must go through an application process and provide documentations from healthcare providers.
CPS told NBC 5 in a statement, “The district is opening five days per week, in-person in accordance with federal and state guidelines, which have emphasized the critical importance of students getting back to the classroom after a period of immense disruption to learning and social-emotional well-being. Health officials and scientists also agree that opening schools in fall is not only in the best interest of our students, but that it can be done safely, which is why there will not be a standing virtual learning option except for our most medically fragile students who meet specific criteria."
Parents hope CPS will hear them out as the clock continues to wind down until the start of school.
"I think we need that option, you know, for CPS to give us options for our families because we know them better than anyone else," said CPS parent Jazmin Cerda.
School starts Aug. 30th. CPS is also hosting three virtual back to school family town hall meetings this week giving parents the opportunity to ask question about the new school year.