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‘The Kids Are Casualties in a War’

The Daily

The New York Times

News, Daily News

4.597.8K Ratings

🗓️ 13 January 2022

⏱️ 32 minutes

🧾️ Download transcript

Summary

As the highly infectious Omicron variant surged, a high-stakes battle played out between Mayor Lori Lightfoot of Chicago and the city’s teachers’ union about how to keep schools open and safe. We chart this battle on the ground in Chicago, speaking with teachers, parents and students about the standoff.

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0:00.0

From New York Times, I'm Michael Obaro. This is a daily.

0:13.0

Over the past week, as Omicron infections surged, a high-stakes battle has played out in

0:19.1

Chicago, again, between the city's mayor and its teacher's union, about whether it's

0:25.1

safe or practical to keep schools open. Today, my colleagues Claire Tennis-Sketter and Rob

0:35.7

Sipco spoke with the students, teachers, and parents caught in the middle of the standoff.

0:52.7

It's Thursday, January 13th.

1:07.7

Hi, Sonia. Hi. Hi. Can you hear me? Yes. So, I would love to just start by like getting

1:17.8

a little bit to introduce yourself for me. Okay. My name is Sonia Johnson. I'm a special

1:23.8

teacher. I've been teaching in Chicago Public Schools for 21 years, and I've been teaching

1:30.5

in a high school for about 15 years. What has that been like in the recent past? So, winter

1:38.5

break, COVID surges, infection rates just climb. You know, we were constantly watching

1:44.1

the news and wondering, you know, if we were going to go remote, which we all were hoping

1:49.0

we would go remote for safety reasons. But we came back Monday, and, you know, classes

1:55.6

were about 50% full due to COVID outbreaks. Our principal head COVID, she was out. Our

2:05.1

dean, he also has COVID and was out. Wow. Serious, just staffing issues. Teachers were asked

2:14.1

to cover for other teachers who were absent, which I did missing my prep periods and my

2:20.3

lunch period. I had a student in my class with all the symptoms of COVID, and she said,

2:28.3

Ms. Johnson, you know, I feel really, really sick. You know, I have a sore throat, I have

2:33.0

a cough, I feel like I'm like getting a fever. I mean, and she said, but I was tested negative

2:39.3

for COVID. So, can I just sit in the hallway? So, I brought her downstairs looking for the

2:46.5

nurse, and I'm like, how can I send this student home? You know, we cannot have any students

2:51.6

with any symptoms, regardless of, you know, positive or negative COVID tests. So, anyway,

...

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