The video came after Chicago Public Schools (CPS) canceled classes Wednesday and Thursday amid negotiations with the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU), whose members are pushing to work remotely until COVID-19 cases “substantially subside” or until Mayor Lori Lightfoot signs an agreement meeting the union’s safety demands.
“We’ve made headlines again because Chicago Public Schools are closed today. How are you all doing about this? ‘Cause I’m not doing well,” journalist and mother Ana Belaval said in a Thursday video.
A sign taped to the front door of Pulaski International School of Chicago reads "School Closed" after Chicago Public Schools, the nation’s third-largest school district, said it would cancel classes since the teachers union voted in favor of a return to remote learning, in Chicago, Jan. 5, 2022. (REUTERS/Jim Vondruska)
Belaval, who sat next to two of her children on the couch while she recorded, said that she is “not picking sides” but expressed frustration that her kids are back home after being in school for two days following winter break.
“This is what I wanted to do on my last day of vacation at home,” she said. “I go back to work tomorrow. I didn’t want to be having conversations with [my son]. I wanted him to be learning. And there is the possibility that they can learn remotely again, which was fabulous last year and rendered us…an interesting situation on third grade.”
She continued: “The eighth-grader does better than he does. … I don’t know how your kids are doing after a year of remote learning in Chicago, but we’ve had our struggles, and so…we parents are, like we say in Puerto Rico, el jamon del sandwich, the ham in between the sandwich.”
Belaval is “seriously worried” about her son’s math and reading comprehension, as well as her own mental health, she said.
A protester’s car displays the message "The Plan is More Dead Kids" during the Occupy City Hall Protest and Car Caravan hosted by Chicago Teachers Union in Chicago, Illinois, on Aug. 3, 2020. (KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI / AFP)
“Meanwhile, it feels like these decisions are pushed until last minute for both sides to take extreme measures against each other and leave us stuck,” she explained. “I’m blessed. I can pick tutoring. I cannot pay private school, like many of my friends [who have] abandoned the public system. But there are so many kids who rely on schools for meals, for heat, for safety.”
Many of the Facebook users who commented on Belaval’s video empathized with her, saying they were in the same boat with classes canceled.
CPS said it is offering meals and “Safe Haven sites” for children Thursday amid unexpected closures as it negotiates with the CTU.
The union is demanding a remote-learning period until cases “substantially subside” or until Mayor Lori Lightfoot signs an agreement on “conditions of return,” including “robust testing, sufficient staffing and subs, and a school-level metric to trigger a pause in in-person instruction.” CPS is demanding teachers return to their classrooms.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot, shown at City Hall on April 15, 2021, said Monday that a very small number of Chicago police officers have been placed on no-pay status for refusing to comply with the city’s requirement that they report their vaccine status.
(Jose M. Osorio/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)
Union members during a Wednesday morning Zoom meeting expressed concern with staffing shortages, a lack of COVID-10 testing for students and staff, as well as Chicago’s use of federal aid from the American Rescue Plan for the city’s schools.
Chicago’s daily COVID-19 case count rose to nearly 5,000 on Thursday, or approximately 185 cases per 100,000 people. Deaths, however, remain at 11 per day, or 0.4 per 100,000 people. CPS previously told Fox News that 91% of CPS staff are vaccinated against the virus.
President Biden, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten and national health organizations, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics, are pushing to keep schools open.
Audrey Conklin is a digital reporter for FOX Business and Fox News. Email tips to email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter at @audpants.