For the (mostly) white, higher-income parents in Chicagoland complaining that Chicago Public Schools (or Evanston or Oak Park, etc.) are not opening fast enough…they need to consider a comparison of:
- School demographics. The higher the percentage of low-income families, homeless families, families having to travel on public transportation or busses; larger class sizes and fewer school health professionals? The more logistically difficult re-opening safely during an ongoing pandemic is.
- School logistics. Re-opening one private school vs. 3 elementary schools (like Skokie 69) vs. 629 schools…seriously no comparison. Even small districts in a hybrid situation have plans that will make your head spin from the complexity. Oak Park’s plan for 10 schools is insanely complicated.
- Comparing (majority white–in teachers and students, mostly higher income families) Wilmette to more diverse in every way other districts OR private schools…apples vs. oranges.
- School re-opening plans are not created equal…because priorities, space, resources. A glance at the very detailed, logistically-complicated, and resource heavy ($$$) plan in a district like Wilmette for only SIX schools, you can’t compare to Chicago Public Schools, or Evanston, or Oak Park.
- The reality that the deadly and long-term effects of the pandemic are so dramatically different between higher-income, white families…and everyone else. There are terrified families who have lost parents, neighbors, children, co-workers. And there are families (mostly white, higher-income) in communities where folks don’t know ANYONE personally who has died of COVID.
- Protecting the long-term (long hauler if they survive COVID) health and actual lives of teachers, paraprofessionals, janitors, clerks, cafeteria workers. I have started reading over the official plans of some of these suburbs and it is shocking to me that not a single one yet has–as part of their official re-opening qualifications–that all staff members are fully vaccinated. Not one yet. I’m still holding out hope.
All of this to say, the effects of the pandemic and logistics and safety have to be considered from ALL perspectives. The lived experience of someone who is white, higher-income, working at home, able to order groceries via an app and pay their housing expenses is not the de facto lived experience for everyone. Stop comparing apples and oranges regarding school re-opening plans.
The return-to-school information is not easy to find, so if you have information that I’ve missed, or if I’ve gotten information wrong? Please shoot me an email.