CPS nurses voice concerns as school reopening nears

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Brian Jackson, Sun-Times Media

Chicago Public Schools nurses raised red flags about in-person learning as some students are set to return to schools next week.

Several Chicago Public Schools nurses spoke out about COVID-19 concerns, as schools are set to reopen next week, in a virtual meeting with CPS parents and Chicago Teachers Union members Wednesday night.

“When you start hearing nurses speak up and speak out, I think it’s worth listening to them because we don’t do that lightly,” Dennis Kosuth, a CPS nurse said.

Nearly 80,000 CPS students are set to return to in-person learning at the beginning of 2021. Preschool and special education students and teachers will return next week while students and teachers in K-12 will return about a month later.

Nurses, such as Erica McIntosh, a CPS nurse who almost lost her life to COVID-19 in March, said they felt left out of conversations regarding reopening.

“They haven’t included me in the discussion,” McIntosh said. “I am the public health person in the building and I respect that role and I am ready to put the gloves on — do I have gloves? Do I have water to wash my hands? Do I have an office? Please give me the tools that I need so I can take care of the patients that I have.”

CTU officers and nurses focused on both safety and equity during the conversation. Students of color are less likely to return to in-person learning. Only about one-third of Black, Latino and Asian American families are sending their kids back into schools, while two-thirds of white families are opting to send their kids back.

“This plan has been sold to us as a plan of equity and the facts tell us something very different” Stacy Davis Gates, CTU vice president said. “Facts are this: Black families, Brown families who are the largest majority of students who attend the Chicago Public Schools have opted for remote learning.”

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December 30, 2020 at 08:04PM

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