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Chicago school officials must take bold steps to help families during the coronavirus pandemic

Lifting the ban on rent control, a no-evictions policy and hiring parents to clean schools are among the steps that the Board of Education can support.

A line of parents wait for bags with free breakfast and lunch meals for students at William P. Nixon Elementary School, March 19, 2020.
A line of parents wait for bags with free breakfast and lunch meals for students at William P. Nixon Elementary School.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

At the first virtual Chicago Board of Education meeting in Chicago’s history, I asked our appointed officials of the nation’s third largest school district to take bold action.

While social isolation is tough, the real crisis will happen later, when parents have double mortgage payments and utility bills. Therefore, the board should support a bill to lift the ban on rent control in the state legislature and demand no evictions of our students, ever, not just during a COVID-19 crisis. Evictions and unemployment will spike in the aftermath of this pandemic. To reduce the number of homeless students, the board could halt any business with financial institutions that do not adopt a no eviction and no foreclosure policy. To this end, the board must also support the community benefits agreement for the Obama Presidential Center and commit to no school closures or displacements in and around the center.

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Lastly, we can deputize under- and unemployed parents to ramp up services to our housing-insecure students, hire them as unionized custodians to keep our schools clean and prevent another COVID-19 outbreak. The public sector must become a place to expand opportunities, not a casualty of the calamity. Especially our homeless, but all students, also need free internet and ChromeBooks.

Unfortunately this is not the last we are going to see of new sicknesses, and we need better means and policies to allow internet communication and videoconferencing if school is out again. In addition, to protect our undocumented families who do not qualify for extended unemployment insurance benefits, the district can provide cash payments available to them at schools to stay afloat in these uncertain times.

Jackson Potter, Chicago Teachers Union trustee, teacher at Back of the Yards High School

Homeless on Red Line

So the mayor closes the parks and now the CTA Red Line has eight or nine homeless people in each car. Some of them coughing.

I know we can do better than this. Open school gymnasiums for them and if they don’t want to go, use force. This is no time for them to infect our essential doctors, nurses, etc who use the Red Line.

Neil Spun, Edgewater

No pass for Trump

Can someone explain to me why we should give our president a pass when he knew about this virus in January and said it was a hoax drummed up by the Democrats? Only when so many people started dying did he start to get a clue. Now because of that we have more cases than China or Italy

Virginia Dare McGraw, Naperville