School is about a week and a half into session and CPS students have seen some changes around campus and in their classrooms.
After two-plus years of work stoppages and labor disputes between CPS leaders and the Chicago Teachers Union, CPS campuses will now have an on-staff nurse and social worker. Classes are also smaller, something CTU’s newly elected President Stacy Davis Gates worked hard to negotiate for.
Also, different this year - COVID protocols, which no longer require someone to quarantine if they've had an exposure. Davis Gates says the vaccine has made facing the pandemic a little different “Keeping schools open means the district should figure out how to work with us to get our students vaccinated,” Gates said, pointing out that the overwhelming majority of CPS students are not vaccinated.
Among the new protocols is the requirement to wear a mask when visiting with the school nurse or other medical professionals in school when exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms, when exposed to someone who’s tested positive for COVID-19, when returning from five days of learning or working from home.
Chicago Public Schools CEO Pedro Martinez says teacher positions are filled in the district but there are 900 unfilled staff positions.
“We don’t keep teachers inside our schools if we don’t teach them well” said Davis Gates. The CTU president says that working in partnership with decision-makers will prevent teacher burnout and help stop the exodus of teachers in Chicago.
Another problem Davis Gates points out is that the mayor’s formula for funding public schools in the city sends less money to the schools that need it the most, “It’s tough being in the classroom when you don’t have what you need,” Davis-Gates said.