CTU continues bargaining over COVID safety plan despite CPS vaccine mandate; new Hancock HS opens

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CHICAGO (WLS) — Some Chicago Public School students are getting ready to head back to class in a brand new high school building Monday.

City and school leaders were on-hand for a ribbon cutting Friday morning.

John Hancock College Preparatory High School students will start the school year on Monday in the new building.

CPS is calling it a state-of-the-art facility.

The mayor and CPS leadership got a tour of the new and improved selective-enrollment high school Friday. The tour was followed by a ribbon cutting on the city’s Southwest Side.

RELATED: Chicago Public Schools to require COVID-19 vaccine for all employees

Located in the 5400-block of West 64th Place, the school replaces the previous Hancock High School, and includes a black box theater, STEM labs, 28 standard classrooms and rooms for extracurricular activities.

CPS is set to return to full-time in-person learning with limited exceptions on Monday. Daily health screeners will be required, along with a COVID vaccine mandate for its employees and an indoor mask requirement for all.

But with the school year just days away, CPS is still bargaining with the teachers union on a COVID safety plan.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot Friday morning was ensuring this school year will be a safe one.

RELATED: Chicago Public Schools teachers return to classrooms as CTU calls for more COVID protections

“We know based on everything that we learned from last school year and over the course of the summer that we can be open, and open safely,” Lightfoot said. “We have a body of evidence demonstrating just that from our reopening last year, and it is critically important that we do remain open, not only for our students’ educational needs, but for their social and emotional needs as well.”

The Chicago Teachers Union Friday morning called bargaining with the district on a COVID safety plan frustrating and even offensive, saying CPS is stripping some safety protocols that were in place last winter and spring, like going from 6 feet of social distancing to 3 feet.

There are also CPS parents advocating for a remote learning option.

Hancock will welcome more than 1,000 students next week.

The city hopes the school demonstrates its investment on the Southwest Side.

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August 27, 2021 at 11:57AM

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