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Chicago schools stick to a partial reopening Monday

January 9, 2021 GMT
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Rev. Jesse Jackson, center, receives the Pfizer's BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine Friday, Jan. 8, 2021, from Dr. Kiran Chekka, Covid Administration Physician at the Roseland Community Hospital as Kizzmekia Corbett, an immunologist with the Vaccine Research Center at the National Institute of Health watches in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
1 of 6
Rev. Jesse Jackson, center, receives the Pfizer's BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine Friday, Jan. 8, 2021, from Dr. Kiran Chekka, Covid Administration Physician at the Roseland Community Hospital as Kizzmekia Corbett, an immunologist with the Vaccine Research Center at the National Institute of Health watches in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

CHICAGO (AP) — Some in-person instruction at Chicago public schools will resume Monday for the first time in months, the city’s mayor and school chief reaffirmed Friday, warning teachers that their absence will have consequences.

The district is giving families the option for students in pre-kindergarten and some special education programs. K-8 students could return on Feb. 1. No date has been set for high school students.

About 6,500 students are expected Monday, the district said, still a fraction of the nation’s third-largest district.

Remote learning “is not sustainable, not over the long term, because it does not serve every student equally, especially those students who are younger, who require additional help and support and simply don’t have access to a sustainable learning environment,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said.

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The Chicago Teachers Union, however, said many schools still carry risks for the coronavirus. Attendance by teachers this week has been uneven.

“Those individuals will be deemed absent without leave, and they will not be eligible for pay going forward,” said district chief executive Janice Jackson. “This is not a measure that we take lightly, and it can be avoided if staff chooses to return to school. We believe we’ve done every single thing within our power to ensure a safe return to school.”

Meanwhile, the state said 3,777 people with COVID-19 were in Illinois hospitals Thursday night, the fewest since Nov. 3.

An additional 126 people died, raising the Illinois total to 17,395, the state said. More than 1 million people have been infected.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson got the vaccine Friday at a Chicago hospital.

“Take the vaccine. Take the vaccine now,” he told a crowd of health care workers and reporters.