Chicago students stage walkout, say COVID protocols lacking

Chicago Student Walkout
Protesters calling for better COVID-19 health and safety procedures in Chicago public schools briefly block traffic at State Street and Madison Street in Chicago near Chicago Public Schools headquarters on Friday, Jan. 14, 2022. (Terrence Antonio James/Chicago Tribune via AP)
Chicago Student Walkout
Protesters calling for better COVID-19 health and safety procedures in Chicago public schools gather outside Chicago Public Schools headquarters on Madison Street in downtown Chicago, Friday, Jan. 14, 2022. (Terrence Antonio James/Chicago Tribune via AP)
Virus Outbreak Chicago Schools
Student Catlyn Savado, center, addresses students at Percy Julian High School in Chicago as many students walk out of school over school safety issues on Friday, Jan. 14, 2022. Students will make their way to Chicago Public Schools headquarters in downtown for a rally later in the afternoon. (Jose M. Osorio/Chicago Tribune via AP)
Chicago Student Walkout Schools
Students at Percy Julian High School in Chicago walk out of school over school safety issues on Friday, Jan. 14, 2022. Students will make their way to Chicago Public Schools headquarters in downtown for a rally later in the afternoon. (Jose M. Osorio/Chicago Tribune via AP)

CHICAGO (AP) — Hundreds of Chicago students staged a walkout Friday, saying there weren't enough precautions in place to protect them from COVID-19 despite an agreement between the teachers union and school district to return to classrooms.

The walkout at schools across the city culminated outside district offices downtown, where the students waved signs, chanted and briefly blocked traffic.

“Hey, hey, ho, ho, Lori Lightfoot’s got to go,” they said, a reference to the Chicago mayor.

The union voted last week to switch to remote instruction due to an increase in COVID-19 cases and what they said were insufficient safety measures. Administrators in the nation’s third-largest school district canceled classes for five days as a result. Lightfoot insisted in-person instruction was best for students and called the union’s action an illegal work stoppage.

In-person classes resumed Wednesday after an agreement on a safety plan that includes metrics to shut down individual schools during outbreaks and expanded testing.

While masks are required inside schools, the protesters said some students don't have masks or wear them inconsistently. They also want better access to COVID-19 testing and technology for remote learning.

“We want online schooling and the ability to be kept safe ... while we’re trying to get an education,” student Jaden Horton said.

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