January 10, 2022
Happy Monday: It's National Clean Off Your Desk Day, which is making Monica self-conscious about all the half-finished coffee mugs in front of her computer.
- Today's weather: Mostly sunny but cold. High of 15 and a low of 3.
Situational awareness: Chicago Public Schools (CPS) announced at 7:41pm last night that it has canceled classes today again as the CTU and CPS try to hash out final points of contention. If you are a CPS parent, let us know your thoughts on the situation.
Today's newsletter is 875 words — a 3.5-minute read.
1 big thing: Sticking points
Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) swapped counter proposals over the weekend but remain stuck on three main points.
The CTU wants 10% of randomly chosen students tested each week unless parents opt them out.
- Mayor Lori Lightfoot says she's morally opposed to testing students unless parents explicitly opt them in.
Context: Dozens of districts across the state and country conduct opt-out testing. And some cities, including Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., are making testing mandatory for all students to return.
Speaking of testing: Gov. J.B. Pritzker tweeted Saturday that he'd secured 350,000 rapid tests to "get teachers and kids safely in classrooms ASAP."
- Lightfoot tweeted back thanks for "agreeing to sell" CPS 350,000 tests.
The CTU wants teachers back in school buildings Monday to prepare for remote teaching.
- CPS insists that students return to the buildings, too.
What they're saying: CPS says "schools are the safest place" for students, citing a department of health study showing fewer COVID-19 infections among students who returned to in-person school last year.
The other side: CTU contends schools are still unsafe. Northwestern University infectious disease professor Dr. Robert Murphy told WGN-TV Friday that "it's not safe to open schools."
- State contact tracing data lists schools as the top potential exposure site.
CTU wants a stated threshold that could flip the whole district to remote rather than just a single school or classroom.
- CPS rejects any such threshold.
🤝 Meanwhile, a surprise mediator has emerged: Rev. Jesse Jackson. At a CTU press conference Saturday, he said he has been speaking to Mayor Lightfoot and the union as an "honest broker," to help solve the impasse.
2. Newest disparities in CPS: COVID factors
Vaccinations in CPS vary wildly: The district's highest-income schools show some of the highest rates, while low-income schools show some of the lowest.
- This is according to an Axios analysis of December vaccination and testing data obtained by Chalkbeat Chicago through public records requests.
Why it matters: CPS and the CTU are currently hammering out policies that will be applied uniformly in a district where COVID safety circumstances vary immensely.
- The data argues for a more nuanced approach based on circumstances on the ground.
Big takeaway: Majority Black high schools had an average vaccination rate of 28%, while majority Latino high schools averaged 57%. Grade schools have much lower rates.
- Dozens of schools showed vaccination rates under 10%.
- Some schools with high rates still have low weekly COVID testing enrollment.
- All of the top vaccinated schools are selective or partially selective enrollment schools.
Go deeper: Chalkbeat's full data set and analysis.
What's next: Axios has filed a public records request to CPS for updated vaccination and testing data through early January.
3. Tips and hot links
🚑 Local emergency rooms can't find enough non-emergency beds to accommodate admitted COVID patients. (Chicago Tribune)
🚧 A piece of the Hancock building fell off, terrifying passers-by and neighbors. (Block Club Chicago)
🏀 After a slow start, Illinois men's basketball is 4-0 in the Big Ten, tied for the top spot. (Daily Illini)
🎙 'Dancin' Man' Perry Kanlan, famous for jumping up on stage and dancing with performers like James Brown and The Jackson 5, has died. He was 78. (Sun-Times)
On the job hunt?
4. Bears, Nagy blown out yet again
The Bears finished the 2021-22 season with their first losing season under fourth-year head coach Matt Nagy. According to the Sun-Times, it will be his last.
Why it matters: Bears management expected a high-flying offense from the first-time head coach but instead got one of the worst offenses in franchise history.
- Sunday's 31-17 loss to the Vikings was a microcosm of Nagy's tenure. The offense moved the ball in the first half but couldn't score points before the Vikings made the necessary halftime adjustments to outscore the Bears 28-3 in the second half.
- Wide receiver Darnell Mooney was the lone bright spot Sunday. He had a career-high 12 catches and finished with over 1,000 receiving yards on the season.
Context: Nagy was hired because he was considered an offensive guru from his time in Kansas City. He started off great with a 12-4 record in 2018 while winning NFL Coach of the Year honors.
- But after the infamous "double doink" that ended the Bears playoff run, the team never recovered.
This year, the Bears passing offense ranked towards the bottom of the entire league.
- According to sportswriter Bill Zimmerman, Nagy's passing offense is worse than the Bears offense run by Sid Luckman in the mid-1940s!
The latest: If fired, Nagy leaves Chicago with an overall winning record of 34-31, but only 22-27 since that 2018 season. He's also 0-2 in the playoffs with a 1-7 record against the dreaded Packers.
Lowlights: He was unable to develop Chicago's 2017 No. 2 overall pick, quarterback Mitch Trubisky.
- In 2019, the Bears set a franchise record for the fewest carries in a game against the Saints.
- In 2021, Nagy was criticized for not preparing a game plan that fit rookie quarterback Justin Fields' strengths.
What's next: The Bears have not yet called a press conference but said Nagy will meet with management today. Still no word about the future of general manager Ryan Pace.
- Rumors point to Michigan coach and former Bear Jim Harbaugh as a candidate to potentially replace Nagy.
5. Winter by the lake
Thanks to readers Ellen Partridge and Liane G. for these breathtaking views of winter in our city.
- 📫 Keep the photos coming!
🍊 Monica is excited for the arrival of Sumo orange season!
😢Justin is sad about Bob Saget. He had many Chicago connections and made frequent trips to town. He will be missed.
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