Chicago students protest for virtual learning, COVID-19 stipends
Students in Chicago participated in a walkout on Friday, demonstrating over a lack of adequate safety measures and resources amid the COVID-19 pandemic, just days after the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) and Chicago Public Schools (CPS) agreed to reopen schools again.
The walkout, which included at least 500 students and was led by Chicago Public Schools Radical Youth Alliance (Chi-Rads), began on Friday afternoon and resulted in students protesting outside of the headquarters for CPS, The Chicago Tribune reported.
Students demanded laptops for virtual learning, including students in discussions over plans regarding COVID-19 safety, adequate quantities of cleaning supplies and better social distancing, among other concerns, the newspaper reported.
Chi-Rads posted a list of their demands earlier this week ahead of the demonstrations, which also included other demands such as COVID-19 stipends, free vaccines, vaccine resources and additional staff support.
“Students have demanded and teachers have demanded for the safety of people in our school communities. We know this has not happened,” the lead organizer of the school walkout, high school freshman Catlyn Savado, said, according to the Tribune. “We know what keeps us safe. Only the community knows what they need to keep the community safe.”
Following four days of canceled classes in Chicago schools, CPS and the city’s teacher union agreed on a deal earlier this week to allow in-person learning again on Wednesday. CTU had previously asked for temporary remote learning amid a lack of adequate COVID-19 measures and a surge of COVID-19 cases.
Teachers participated in their own walkout, much to the disapproval of Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D).
The teacher’s union expressed support for students’ walkout on social media.
“Again, the irony of doubting the youth being a central reason why the youth are taking this action. And let’s keep it a buck…our union hasn’t turned that many people out at CPS HQ since 2019. Kids did that,” CTU tweeted on Friday.
CPS said in a statement that students’ and staff’s health and safety was a “top priority” for the school system, according to the Tribune.
“CPS remains committed to fostering learning environments that allow students to respectfully deliberate issues with evidence and an open mind — and safely participate in civic action,” it said.
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