The Crusader Newspaper Group

Teachers fearful of surge in COVID-19 cases at Park Manor Elementary School

Due to an outbreak of COVID-19 at the Park Manor Elementary School, located at 7037 S. Rhodes, 68 percent of the building is under quarantine and teachers are rightfully frightened especially those with children, according to Kkeyonna Payton, chairperson of the school’s Safety Team.

In an interview with the Chicago Crusader, Payton said the number of COVID-19 cases have been growing over the past two-weeks especially this week. “It has been a serious situation.”

According to Payton, as of Thursday, December 16th, six staff members have tested positive. The principal also tested positive along with four support staffers. Eleven students have tested positive and 174 out of 250 students have been quarantined, or 68 percent of the student body. They are expected to return to school on January 3, 2022.

Payton said when a student tests positive, the classroom is flipped to remote learning. She said students remain quarantined for ten-days. Payton gave the breakdown of full grades that have been flipped to remote learning.

They include: 29 students’ kindergarten, 27 students 7th grade, 27 students 8th grade, 26 students 3rd grade, 25 students 2nd grade and 20 students 5th grade.

Grades with individual quarantines include 15 students in the 6th grade, which Payton said is half the class, and 2 pre-kindergarten students.

“Our biggest concern is the testing of this virus and getting the results back in a timely fashion,” she said. “Our building is to be tested on Thursday by a company, but it is a significant challenge” for teachers to get the results of those tests in a timely fashion.

Payton said not all of the students have been tested and those who have been the test results may not come back until Saturday, Monday or even Tuesday.

She gave an example of one parent who did not get the test results of her child back in a timely fashion. That parent, Payton, said sent her “positive tested baby to school.”

Another issue is the deep cleaning of the building. “They need more inspectors and custodians because I don’t think they are deep cleaning fast enough,” Payton said.

“I feel terrible about this, and I am extremely concerned and nervous. I have a 6-year-old who has asthma. My family is vaccinated as is our entire school staff, but not all of the students are vaccinated. In fact, only one-fourth of our students are vaccinated and that is a serious problem,” Payton told the Chicago Crusader.

Asked what school officials are doing to reduce the number of positive COVID-19 cases, Payton said, “We are working towards getting more students vaccinated. There will soon be a meeting held with the parents. We are trying to rally more support to get those students vaccinated.

The Chicago Teacher’s Union (CTU) issued a statement about the Park Manor School COVID-19 crisis. CTU officials said 70 percent of the school population are in quarantine though Park Manor School officials said it is 68 percent.

“CPS has refused to call an operational pause at the school to get control of cases or acknowledge any concerns about the level of COVID at Park Manor.

“That indifference form the mayor’s CPS team is dangerous,” the CTU statement read.

According to CTU officials COVID-19 took the life of a fully vaccinated educator at the Carnegie Elementary School last month. Educators at the Park Manor school are concerned about breakthrough COVID cases especially since CTU officials say there are “no adequate safety guardrails in place.”

CTU officials are equally concerned about the surge of COVID-19 cases and the problems with testing and either incomplete or inadequate contract tracing, little vaccine access or advocacy for students and families. They are also concerned about the status of deep cleaning at Park Manor.

Take home COVID 19 tests have been given to students attending Park manor along with 300 other schools; however, CTU officials say with virtually no students in the building, they are not sure how many of the students received the kits.

CTU officials said for months they have been calling on the mayor’s “hand-picked” board of education to renew the terms of last school year’s safety agreement to reopen schools for in-person learning.

“Even Mayor Lightfoot has agreed that the safety guardrails in that agreement kept students and staff safe last spring,” the CTU statement said. “But, CPS has refused to bargain a safety agreement of this academic year and ignored repeated calls to partner with educators in promoting weekly testing for all and getting shots into the arms of all students and family members.”


Recent News

Scroll to Top