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How ‘successful’ really are Chicago’s Catholic schools in reopening during the pandemic?

Any school reopening needs to be ready for partial or full remote learning to happen at anytime. Reopening will be unstable.

An empty hallway inside Dr. Martin Luther King Junior Academy of Social Justice, a Chicago Public School in Englewood closed because of the pandemic to in-class learning.
Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

I am truly curious about this editorial: “For proof that Chicago’s public schools can be reopened safely, look no further than the successful example of the city’s Catholic schools.”

As a resident of Chicago and as the communications director of Raise Your Hand, I have received personal messages about several schools in the Archdiocese of Chicago, both in the city and the suburbs, that have closed for short periods of time because of COVID-19.

I am not saying that means it’s unsuccessful. I think that any reopening needs to be ready for partial or full remote learning to happen at anytime; reopening will be unstable. I just really wonder how & who defines “successful” and what is really happening in the schools of the archdiocese.

We should collectively be learning from the challenges of the archdiocese and other schools so we can make the best decisions about getting kids safely back to school. Full transparency, as well as inclusion of parents, students and teachers, is needed so we can all figure out the best way forward.

Jennie Biggs, Bridgeport

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Pass Illinois Clean Energy Jobs Act

Coming off the heels of an election that saw a significantly increased voter turnout, advocates across the country are more inspired than ever to build on that progress, realign the nation’s priorities and enact real, structural change throughout the country.

One of our longest and most pressing crises is the fight against climate change. For almost four years, the Trump administration systematically rolled back policies designed to protect our environment and, perhaps most shamefully, withdrew the United States from the landmark Paris Agreement on mitigating climate change.

But with the election of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, a new day is dawning. President-elect Biden already has committed to the United States rejoining the Paris Agreement, and he has announced a plan to get our country back on track with the goals set forth in the accord.

Here in Illinois, we’ve got a great opportunity to make a difference in the fight against climate change by passing the Clean Energy Jobs Act, which not only will help stop the negative impacts of climate change but also have a significantly positive effect on our economy.

The Clean Energy Jobs Act will commit Illinois to 100% renewable energy by 2050, lower electric bills for Illinoisans, reduce pollution from transportation and expand access to green jobs, particularly in communities of color.

Perhaps most significantly as we continue to face a grave economic crisis, the Clean Energy Jobs Act is projected to create tens of billions of dollars in private investment in the green economy.

The public health crisis caused by COVID-19 is a stark reminder that we are not alone in the challenges we face, and we must be united in responding to those challenges. Global crises like COVID-19 and climate change impact all of us in direct and indirect ways and demand a courageous response.

Now is the time to take bold steps in the fight against climate change. Now is the time to pass the Clean Energy Jobs Act here in Illinois.

Mariyana Spyropoulos, commissioner
Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago