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As a parent, I want Chicago teachers back in their classrooms

I’m a mother to a special needs boy, I do my job as a mom. But I am not a teacher or therapist.

Chicago Teachers Union members and their supporters march and protest in Pilsen after a press conference outside Joseph Jungman Elementary School calling for a safe reopening plan.
Chicago Teachers Union members and their supporters march and protest in Pilsen after a press conference outside Joseph Jungman Elementary School calling for a safe reopening plan.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

I do not understand why teachers cannot go back to their jobs in the classroom. Isn’t it their responsibility to show up to work, as so many essential workers do? I am sure medical personnel, grocery store workers, postal service employees, and the list goes on, all feel hesitant about leaving the safety of their homes to go out and earn their living.

With kids doing remote learning, parents are in a stressful situation about doing their jobs outside the house. I am a parent of a special needs boy. All special education students are missing out on therapy time that they will never get back. There’s a good chance they will regress due to their daily schedule being changed. Special education students very much require a structured, educational environment in which to learn.

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As his mom, I do my job in keeping him clean, fed, loved and entertained. But I am not a teacher or therapist and I am here alone. Schools have staff to make sure kids are on track and meet their goals. Teachers know their union will back them up. Most workers don’t have a union, but they suit up and show up with their masks and face the day.

I wish teachers would realize they are not the only ones fighting a pandemic. I just hope that if a teacher needs medical attention, the medical personnel needed are available for them and not afraid of leaving their house that day.

Julie Miklos, Clearing

Landlord-tenant law would protect renters’ health

Our new reality of work-from-home, stay-at-home public health guidance reminds us that our homes should be respites of health and safety. But for tenants living with dangerous housing conditions, reality is far different. Substandard housing can cause an array of serious health conditions. Action is urgently needed, and an ordinance being considered by the Cook County Board of Commissioners would create vital safeguards to help curb these dangerous conditions — an important step to protect the health of vulnerable tenants.

As an attorney working with low-income tenants, I have seen how substandard housing causes a wide range of health issues. The lack of affordable housing coupled with insufficient legal protections forces too many tenants to make an impossible choice — between staying in a home that threatens their family’s health, or risking eviction or homelessness. These heart-wrenching choices are particularly dangerous during a pandemic.

Like the pandemic itself, substandard housing disproportionately harms low-income and Black and Latino people, who are exposed to environmental risks in their homes and communities at much higher rates. Black children are two times more likely than white children to suffer lead poisoning, and seven times more likely to die from an asthma attack. These glaring disparities flow, in part, from decades of racist housing policies.

Tenants in Chicago, Evanston and Mount Prospect benefit from strong local landlord-tenant laws, but most suburban communities lack such protections. The countywide Residential Tenant and Landlord Ordinance would help to rectify this disparity by ensuring that all Cook County tenants have legal protections from harmful housing conditions. As public health officials continue to ask us all to stay home to protect us from COVID-19, we must ensure those homes do not pose health hazards as well.

Jenna Prochaska, clinical teaching fellow, Health Justice Project, Loyola University Chicago School of Law

High-tech protection against carjackings

With the unbelievable increase in carjackings involving deaths, auto manufacturers should come up with an extra fob so that if someone is carjacked, they could press that fob and disable the vehicle as it drives off. Or perhaps have a cell phone app where you can enter a code and disable the vehicle.

Let’s think about this.

John Moravecek, Naperville