Good afternoon. I’m Lindsey LaPointe, State Representative of the 19th House District which covers much of the far NW side of Chicago. I have a history in social work, and youth development and my time working in a CPS school in Humboldt Park still guides me today.
I am here today as an elected state representative of 108k people who all desperately want things to get back to normal and who desperately want to stop seeing their friends and family members in the ICU, on ventilators, or dying of COVID-19. Like most of us, they are scared, fatigued, stretched emotionally and many are stretched financially. Teetering on the edge, in many ways, and in different ways. As I’ve continued to say since March: we are all in the same storm, but different boats and help if you can help, and ask for help if you need it.
The educators and parents in my world are asking for help and some of us are in a position to help. Despite our different boats, every single one of us wants to get back to in-person school and every single one of us wants to end the dying and sickness. With this vaccine finally out yesterday, we now have a dim light at the end of the tunnel and we now are in a position to both thoughtfully get back to in-person schooling and end the ICUs and death and holes in our hearts. We are positioned well, and yet without complete and direct clarity on safety standards, public health metrics, and safety preparations to the people with the most to lose – that is, educators, students and their families – we blow our positioning. We prolong these multiple crises we are in, and we accelerate our current crisis of faith for many that government actors cannot be trusted to make the best decision for our collective well-being.
The educators, students and their families that I represent are desperate to go back to in-person schooling but only after CPS can demonstrate and truly “show their work” that safety concerns are taken seriously.
• We need clear public health metrics, including zip code level metrics
• We need rapid testing in schools, and what U of I has done with more than 1M tests and a .25% 7-day positivity rate is a great model
• And we need full-throated support for the prioritization of educators for the vaccine
Overall, we need to build trust and this can come through the joint CTU-CPS committee on COVID-19 and the safety committees in each school that CTU is asking for.
I have said in many public platforms that we are dealing with multiple crises, and in many ways they intersect right here at CPS: public health, economic, systemic racial injustice, and a crisis in faith of our government and politics. As an IL elected official with a short tenure, I battle this distrust every day and have to wear the jacket for years of government action and inaction that has bred mistrust. As a newer board, we likely share this in common. To help us all through these intersecting crises, I ask that by focusing on safety, communication, and engagement of the people with the most at stake, we take this moment to rebuild the trust.
Thank-you for the time at the mic today and I thank every single one of you for your service to the city.