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CPS Families Plan 'Sick-Out,' Call For Remote Learning Options Amid COVID-19 Worries; Waukegan School Families Also Want Remote Options

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Public schools in and outside Chicago have faced criticism from some parents over measures taken to keep kids safe from COVID-19.

Some Chicago Public Schools parents are planning a walkout on Monday. CBS 2's Marissa Parra found out Sunday about the frustrations from near and far.

Advocates want a choice between in-person and remote learning for children in school who are too young to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

"We totally support them," said Brenna O'Brien, co-organizer of CPS Sick Out. "We want all parents to have the option for remote or safe in-person learning."

O'Brien is among those spearheading a similar campaign in Chicago – demanding a Monday "sick-out."

"CPS is not offering a remote option to all students in quarantine, and parents are being told if they don't feel their kids will be safe in school to drop out and home school," O'Brien said.

Families of Waukegan Public Schools students had also earlier called for a boycott until they were given options. But the plan for the walkout there was called off after reports that progress had been made with school system officials.

"I believe these parents, especially those with chronic conditions and children, should have a choice," said advocate Julie Contreras. "There were hybrid classes before. I think they can go back to that."

Waukegan Public Schools had said in an earlier statement that in-person learning will remain in place for now.

Families in Waukegan and Chicago have described what they call slow turnaround times for contact tracing. According to an email a CPS parent passed along to CBS 2, parents were notified a full week after the first possible COVID-19 exposure.

"This is unacceptable to hear from a public school district," O'Brien said.

This is the third CPS "sick out" from the same group this year. The first was in February, while the second was just two weeks ago before schools opened for the new school year.

They are planning a protest rally and march in Logan Square, near Mayor Lori Lightfoot's home.

"Mayor Lori Lightfoot needs to take accountability for the multiple system failures that have happened in the past two weeks, and allow schools to immediately implement changes to make in-person attendance safer and remote learning accessible to all who want it," the CPS parents said in a statement.

A total of 89 students and 71 adults "associated with CPS buildings" tested positive for COVID-19 between Aug. 29 and Sept. 8.

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