Chicago Public Schools abruptly announced that schools will close on Nov. 12 for “Vaccine Awareness Day,” in an effort to encourage parents to vaccinate their kids aged 5-11 years old.
On Nov. 4, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) announced that schools will be closed in hopes of vaccinating children after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized the emergency use of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
CPS CEO Pedro Martinez sent an email to parents stating that classes would be canceled, but not sporting events.
“Vaccination Awareness Day on Friday, November 12 is an opportunity for parents and guardians to take their children five years of age and older to get vaccinated at their pediatrician’s office, at a healthcare provider, or at a CPS school-based site or community vaccination center,” Martinez said.
Nader Issa, an education reporter for the Sun-Times, pointed out that the abrupt announcement of school closures could create childcare challenges for many parents.
“Obviously this creates childcare challenges for families with little notices,” Issa tweeted. “But the day before is Veterans Day and already a day off for CPS. So this turns it into a four-day weekend for the district.”
NEW: Chicago Public Schools is canceling classes Nov. 12. Officials say it’ll be a “vaccine awareness day” to give families time to take their kids to get COVID-19 shots now that children ages 5-11 are eligible. The move comes with eight days’ notice
— Nader Issa (@NaderDIssa) November 4, 2021
Stacey Davis Gates, the union’s vice president, raised similar concerns about the abrupt announcement.
“If we are truly getting this day off for a vaccination day, which is a good idea, we’re going to have a comprehensive plan that includes communication, that includes transportation and that includes anchoring vaccination sites at all of our school communities,” Davis Gates said in an interview. “Anything short of that, this is a stunt.”
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, union leaders have been urging the district to incentivize higher rates of vaccination among children. The union has specifically called for the district to set up vaccination clinics at every school, organize after-school vaccination events, and provide “incentives” for families. (RELATED: Chicago Teachers Union Votes To Defy School Reopening Plans, Demands Vaccinations Before Returning To Classrooms)
CPS spent nearly one year shut down due to a combination of COVID-19 fears and teacher union demands. The Chicago Teacher’s Union (CTU) called on Mayor Lori Lightfoot to invest in a slew of unrelated demands such as “social justice” and affordable housing for students.