Representatives of a Portage Park high school that saw one of the city’s first cases of COVID-19 have approved a resolution seeking to bar a return to in-person learning for some students next month until there can be a collaborative conversation between Chicago Public Schools and the school’s community.
During a special meeting Tuesday, the local school council at Vaughn Occupational High School unanimously approved the measure, which said students and staff will not be allowed into the building following winter break “until it is safe to return to in-person learning.”
That determination, the LSC said in the resolution, should be “determined by CPS and the Vaughn school community, including families, students, staff, administration and the LSC, in collaboration with each other.”
“It is our hope that CPS will collaborate with all stakeholders regarding a consensus on what is deemed a safe return to in-person learning,” the council wrote in a letter sent Tuesday to Mayor Lori Lightfoot, CPS CEO Janice Jackson and others.
CPS, however, said local school councils do not have the authority to decide whether or not schools open.
General education high schoolers are currently not slated to return to in-person learning this school year. But those in special education cluster programs are currently scheduled to resume learning in-person on Jan. 11.
“Chicago Public Schools believes every parent has the right to make a decision in the best interest of their child — whether to continue learning at home or to transition in-person in January,” CPS spokeswoman Emily Bolton said in an email. “The 77,000 families who chose in-person learning deserve that option to be available to them without judgement.”
Other LSCs have passed similar resolutions seeking to halt the district’s reopening plan.
Vaughn, a 233-person school on Chicago’s Northwest Side, offers a specialized education for high school students with mild to moderate cognitive disabilities and 100% of its students are diverse learners.
Vaughn was shut down in early March after an employee there tested positive for COVID-19.
“We are very concerned about the plan to bring faculty back into the school next week, and students the following week,” Vaughn LSC member Josh Radinsky wrote in an email to WTTW News.