Chicago students stage walkout, say COVID-19 protocols lacking


First grade teacher Megan Garner-Jones teaches students participating remotely and in person during the coronavirus outbreak at School 16 in Yonkers, New York. (Representative Image: 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 Lightfoots 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 nations third-largest school district canceled classes for five days as a result. Lightfoot insisted in-person instruction was best for students and called the unions 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.

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COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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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 were trying to get an education, student Jaden Horton said.