Post Omicron Pivot for Chicago Schools
Post Omicron Pivot for Chicago Schools
Why this petition matters
An open letter appealing to the parents of Chicago, our Governor J.B. Pritzker, our mayor Lori Lightfoot, and Alison Awardy our commisioner of public health and our school educators and decision makers.
Since the pandemic began, we have been living under one of the most restrictive COVID-19 policies in the country. These restrictions persist despite Chicago's vaccination rate and lowering COVID-19 hospitalization rates. Chicagos restrictive policies have caused considerable collateral damage throughout the pandemic and have lost their ties to the goal of prevention of serious illness and death. These pervasive policies continue to negatively affect our professional and personal lives without any clear benefit nor end in sight.
At this time we are particularly concerned about the toll our state's policies continue to have on children and teens.
We are writing to ask Illinois officials to acknowledge the endemic nature of COVID-19 after the Omicron surge and immediately shift our public dialogue toward defining a path for removing all remaining COVID-19 restrictions in Chicago schools.
We implore you to do the following:
1. Acknowledge that any adult and most school age children have now had the opportunity to be fully vaccinated, and that forcing further mandates, particularly requiring boosters for children is likely to increase mistrust and resentment of government and public health officials as well as the schools that comply.
2. Acknowledge that many families in Chicago vaccinated their children for the good of society since children are at a lower risk of severe disease.
3. Acknowledge that vaccinated individuals of all ages in this city have been waiting for a reward for their efforts in the form of a major relaxation of restrictions that they have yet to receive.
4 Acknowledge that the public is weary from two years of restrictions, shifting messages from government officials, and a failure to acknowledge that the risk of severe COVID among children is significantly lower than in adults; indeed, it could take well over a generation for government leaders and infectious disease experts to regain the public trust.
5. Acknowledge the smaller risk that COVID-19 illness poses to children compared to the disproportionate toll that mitigation measures have taken on children.
6. Acknowledge the ongoing mental health crisis that is present in our children and teens due to social isolation and anxiety that had been created by this pandemic.
7. Acknowledge the ongoing educational crisis that is unfolding before us so long as children cannot see their teachers' and peers' faces and adequately hear and interact with them.
8. Immediately allow school children to unmask while outdoors, including during sports, by clarifying that outdoor exposures to COVID-19 are exceedingly low risk encounters and should not qualify as close contacts for the purpose of quarantines.
9. Make masks optional while indoors in school settings when Governor Pritzkers' executive orders expire February 12, 2022 or no later than February 24 2022 twelve weeks after the last school child became eligible for the vaccine.
10. Acknowledge the potential developmental harm that is caused to infants and toddlers who do not get to see their caregivers' and teachers' mouths when they are being spoken to nor see their full facial expressions in their interactions.
11. Immediately allow preschool and daycare teachers and students to unmask at all times if they so choose. If they do not choose to, please provide then with the CDC guidance on masking options, emphasizing one-way masking as a protective strategy.
12. Work towards ending the mindless testing of asymptomatic individuals with no clear purpose given that COVID-19 is here to stay.
13. Immediately shift away from a public health response that is based on case rates to one that is strictly looks at hospitalizations and deaths in a broader context.
14. Acknowledge that the present Omicron variant is less deadly that prior variants.
15. Acknowledge that true COVID-19 hospitalizations remain low for the vaccinated and that we should refrain from panic-driven restrictions that inflict additional collateral damage on our most vulnerable populations unjustified by a less deadly variant.
16. Commit to a rigorous cost-benefit analysis for all COVID restrictive policies to ensure that benefit always outweighs hrm, without disproportionately prioritizing prevention of COVID-19 transmission above all other health considerations.
Concerned parents and citizens of Chicago
Please note this is based on the widely disseminated and executed petition in the State of California that is also experiencing crippling unnecessarily strict COVID-19 restrictions to the detriment of its residents.