Tens of thousands of students in the pre K and cluster programs in Chicago Public Schools are back to remote learning while the Chicago Teachers Union and CPS continue efforts to reach an agreement over in-person learning.
Parents told NBC 5 this week they are at their breaking point amid the ongoing stalemate. Some parents feel it’s safe enough to send their child back to school, while others have no confidence in the district’s reopening plan despite the district saying it invested millions of dollars health and sanitation measures.
Regardless of their feelings on the issue, it’s back to remote learning again for 9-year-old Hailey, who is part of the cluster program at Solomon Elementary.
“Beyond frustrating it’s causing more harm than good,” said CPS parent Sherryl Reiss. “E-learning is not for every child. Trying to get her to stay focus while staring at a screen all day— the personal attention and connection that she needs on a daily basis isn’t there.”
Reiss said her daughter Hailey has autism and for the past three weeks she was back in the classroom learning and thriving again up until Wednesday.
“I need my child to be in school. I’ve done everything I can,” cried Reiss. “It breaks my heart when she wants to go and I can’t let her go because the union says it’s not safe.”
The CTU has not been able to reach an agreement with the district over the reopening plan for in person learning. CPS had planned for teachers in K-8 classrooms to return to school this week, with students returning to those classrooms on Feb. 1.
In opposition to that plan, CTU voted over the weekend to have all of its teachers, including those in pre-K and cluster programs who had already returned to classrooms, revert to remote learning.
“I will not be sending my children back to school because it’s simple we can’t trust CPS,” said parent Rosemary Vega.
Some parents held a virtual meeting Wednesday morning to voice their concerns.
“We’re requesting that the mayor and CPS put a halt to their unsafe reopening,” said CPS parent Bridgett White.
Parents who opted for in person learning for their child are now left in limbo waiting to see what’s going to happen next.
“This is ridiculous. My son, my family, were in the middle of it,” said CPS parent Daisy Gamboa. “I’m tired of it.”
Gamboa is just hoping for a resolution. Some K-8 grade students are scheduled to return to in person learning next week. Her son is one of them.
“I feel comfortable as a mother I know what’s best for my son and I feel comfortable sending him into his school building and I wish CTU would listen to parents like me and families like me,” she said.
The CTU issued a statement telling members to work remotely until further notice. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and CPS leader Dr. Janice Jackson have both indicated that they are open to a meditation proposal presented by CTU on Tuesday, but it is unclear whether the two sides will meet with a mediator.