Activists stage 'sick-out' to demand CPS keep students safer from COVID-19

Dozens of people are calling on Chicago Public Schools officials to take immediate action to better protect students, teachers and staff.

On Wednesday morning, community members, activists and parents got together for a "sick-out", standing outside CPS headquarters to voice their demands.

"Cannot pretend this pandemic away. Our school leaders and city leaders must listen and engage. For once, approach this pandemic with the humility, patience and flexibility that you've expected from us," said Cortney Ritsema, a parent of a CPS student.


The group is calling for CPS to immediately allocate the $2 billion of federal COVID relief funds to implement several protocols.

They include hiring a full-time nurse and counselor for every school, providing the option for online remote learning and hiring additional teachers and staff to adequately implement safe social distancing.

Some parents are hopeful vaccines for children will make in-person learning less stressful.

CPS released the following statement:

"CPS is committed to fostering safe and supportive school environments for all students, teachers and staff.

We know that vaccines are our most powerful tool to protect students and staff from COVID-19.  The District has been working with partners to provide access to the vaccine through regional clinics, school-based health centers, and school-based mobile events across the city, and we will expand those efforts to include 5 to 11 year-olds as soon as approval is given by the federal government.  Furthermore, we will have a robust public information campaign to communicate that the vaccine is safe, effective, and crucial to protect the health of CPS parents, students, staff, and all of our school communities.

CPS is also dedicated to improving the consistency and quality of nursing services and mental health services across the district to ensure all students in need of services are properly supported. Chicago Public Schools' number one priority is to support our families, students and staff during this unprecedented time and we are doing everything in our power to serve families to the best of our ability."