Spiking COVID-19 Numbers Have Teachers Concerned About Returning To School

CHICAGO (CBS) — With spiking COVID-19 numbers in some areas in Chicago and schools planning to reopen soon, teachers worry. They are asking if they and their students will be able to stay safe.

Meghan McClory is a psychology teacher at Jones College Prep in Chicago and said there is a common feeling among all of her colleagues.

“I have not yet heard from a teacher who feels comfortable going back,” she said. “How do we ensure the classrooms are safe and being sanitized correctly. I just don’t know how we can do that.”

How will students maintain social distance in crowded hallways, she and south suburban teacher Monica Tyler ask.

“I think it’s just playing Russian Roulette,” said Tyler, a third grade teacher.

Tyler wonders what happens if a student gets sick at school and parents, because of work, cannot get to the child immediately.

“Your student has a fever or they just threw up, well, ‘I don’t have anybody to come pick them up.’ I’m just a little worried. I’m concerned,” she said.

These are questions CPS and other school districts have to consider as they come up with plans to re-open in mere weeks.

“There is no environment in which we can completely eliminate risk,” Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said.

Lightfoot said CPS will unveil its plan soon, but it’ll only be the beginning step and could change depending on feedback from parents and teachers and the latest data on COVID-19.

“The reality is we’re here in mid July. CPS doesn’t typically start school until after Labor Day. A lot can happen between now then,” she said.

Tuesday the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said keeping schools closed is hurting children. Still, Meghan McClory and so many other teachers worry.

“What if one person in one of my classes is exposed? Then are all of students exposed because I’ve been exposed? Who goes home? How do we do that?” she said.

Every single city or suburban teacher CBS 2 spoke with Tuesday expressed the same concerns.

Late Tuesday one CPS teacher said there are 35 students in classrooms at her school. How can they social distance? Garbages cans, she said, aren’t emptied for days. Floors aren’t mopped. She’s asking how classrooms can be deep cleaned.

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