CHICAGO (CBS) — While it’s unclear what plans are in place to open Chicago’s schools, the city’s mayor said decisions will be guided by COVID-19 metrics.
And for Mayor Lori Lightfoot, those metrics are telling her to keep area beaches closed and add more states to the 14-day quarantine.
At a news conference for student loan forgiveness, Lightfoot said people need to make decisions to minimize COVID-19 risks.
“Obviously we’ve been emphasizing social distancing. We’ve been emphasizing wearing a face covering anytime you leave your home and continue to make sure that you’re exercising the hand hygiene requirements that we know make a difference. And anything that happens with reopening schools, all of those elements will be there,” Lighftoot said.
The mayor said CPS will be making an announcement soon on its plans to reopen and start the school year.
“There are ongoing discussions with teachers, parents and other stakeholders about the best way to proceed. The framework that will be the starting point of a discussion. A discussion that has to involve parents and teachers and other members of the school community and obviously people speaking on behalf of students to think about what the potential options are,” Lightfoot said.
But the mayor also noted that school isn’t set to start for several months and with the coronavirus situation still fluid and that will ultimately determine when and how school will reopen.
“CPS typically doesn’t start school until right after Labor Day. A lot can happen between now and then. And that’s why, no matter what the framework, the discussions are always going to be guided by what the public health metrics. I think definitively closer in time, late August,” Lightfoot said. “But we need to start the discussion now about what the potential options are and get feedback from a whole variety of stakeholders in the school community.”
Lightfoot said she’s aware that parents have to plan, not only for themselves but for their children and how they will learn this fall. The mayor said it’s a legitimate concern but it’s hard to say what things will look like at the end of August.
“This disease is unpredictable. And it takes many twists and turns. We’ve got to anticipate and be prepared, but we’re not going to know, specifically, until we get closer,” the mayor said.
The mayor acknowledged that people from Chicago are going to neighboring Indiana to enjoy the beaches there. Despite that trend, Lightfoot there are no immediate plans to reopen beaches in the city.
“It’s about congregation. We open up the beaches, people are gonna flock to the beaches, much harder to impose social distancing and really emphasize on decompression of those kinds of spaces,” Lightfoot said. “So until we feel like we are in a good place, and we’re starting to see a slight uptick in cases. So the beaches conversation is one that’s going to have to come down the road.”
Lightfoot addressed the addition of two more states, Iowa and Oklahoma to the 14-day travel quarantine list put out just before the July 4th weekend.
Starting Friday, travelers coming in from Iowa and Oklahoma will be included in the order, which already covered travel from Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Nevada, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah. The quarantine order first went into effect on July 6.
“A lot of this is about also raising awareness that if you’re coming from one of these areas where you’re seeing case rates explode, where you’re seeing hospitalizations and ICU beds we see an increase in percent positivity people testing positive, it is an important thing to raise the consciousness of people that are living in and coming from those locations about what their obligations are,” Lightfoot said.
The mayor said she wants to continue to raise awareness of possible coronavirus-related problems.
“But I don’t want to create a whole bureaucracy that we actually can’t ever even implement. Other states have included Wisconsin on their travel list. I don’t want to speculate about what might happen but suffice it to say, we’re paying very close attention everywhere around us and particularly the states in the Midwest that border, Illinois in Chicago. That would include Wisconsin course, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana. We’re looking very closely at what their numbers are every single day.”