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A family reacts as teachers and staff at Dore Elementary School parade around the neighborhood Thursday afternoon, waving to people in the Southwest Side community. Amid fears of the coronavirus pandemic, all buildings in Chicago Public Schools are closed until April 30.
A family reacts as teachers and staff at Dore Elementary School parade around the neighborhood Thursday afternoon, waving to people in the Southwest Side community. Amid fears of the coronavirus pandemic, all buildings in Chicago Public Schools are closed until April 30.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

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CPS teachers on parade: 30-car caravan brightens day for kids missing school (yes, some are)

“This is one effort to demonstrate that we are here, that we are committed to our school community, and that when it is safe, we will be together again,” Dore Elementary’s principal said.

With Chicago schools closed because of the coronavirus, teachers are trying their best to bring their lessons home to students — and educators at a Southwest Side school took that a step further this week.

A few dozen teachers at Dore Elementary drove through the Clearing neighborhood Thursday afternoon in a 30-car caravan, led by a Chicago police escort, honking their horns and waving to kids as they passed by families’ homes.

With music blaring from teachers’ cars that were painted with messages for their students, more than a dozen families on a single block waved back at their educators.

Maureen O’Hara, a fourth grade teacher who helped organize the effort, said parents and students were thrilled when they heard their teachers were coming by to say hello.

She said it was important for students who were missing their school and feeling isolated to still have that connection to their teachers.

“We want the kids to know that everything’s going to be OK and that we’re all in this together and give them some sort of hope that, even though we’re not in the classroom with them, we’re still here for them,” O’Hara said. “They’re just so sad. They miss their friends, they miss all of us and the routine.”

Tai Basurto, the principal at Dore, said the parade was a “safe way for us to demonstrate our love for our students.”

“We are really missing one another, and this is one effort to demonstrate that we are here, that we are committed to our school community, and that when it is safe, we will be together again,” Basurto said.

O’Hara wrote her classroom number on her car so her students knew when she drove by, and O’Hara’s own kids helped decorate her car with streamers.

“The parents were all really excited,” O’Hara said. “They know the kids need something positive like this to give them a little bit of hope.”

Teachers and staff at Dore Elementary School parade around the neighborhood Thursday afternoon, waving to families and children in the Southwest Side community.
Teachers and staff at Dore Elementary School parade around the neighborhood Thursday afternoon, waving to families and children in the Southwest Side commuity.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times
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