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CPS and CTU clash again over returning to class

By Sidney Madden | @sidney_madden_


More than 300,000 CPS students are expected back in the classroom today amid the omicron surge and questions about the district’s COVID-19 safety protocols.

Front page of Chicago Tribune featuring a large cover photo of dozens of sealed testing kits overflowing outside a storefront. A person tries to add another package to the pile.

Before winter break, the district sent at-home test kits to 150,000 students in areas hardest hit by COVID-19. 

Chicago Tribune’s E. Jason Wambsgans captured FedEx drop boxes overflowing with returned kits, which prompted CPS to extend the deadline.

On the first day of break, CPS recorded its highest-case count: 173 students and 121 adults were positive. 

The Chicago Teachers Union, or CTU, proposed students and staffers show negative tests before returning to in-person learning, access to high-quality masks, and a metric for schools to switch to remote learning. 

CPS CEO Pedro Martinez defended the district’s safety efforts, and said in-school transmission isn’t as common as other settings, like family gatherings. 

But if the union’s measures aren’t agreed upon, will CTU take action? TBD. 

🎧 Listen to Chicago Tribune’s Tracy Swartz shares what’s next for the nation’s third-largest school district. 

👉 Check out the CPS COVID-19 tracker.


It wasn’t a “White Christmas,” but it’s been a heckuva snowy new year. And it’s on residents to keep those sidewalks clear. Here’s what to know:

⏰ A five-foot path must be cleared ASAP, according to city code
🧂 Don’t use too much salt: it affects our water and fish, the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District said.
👋 Look to My Block My Hood My City or the Lincoln Square Snow Brigade for snow removal help or to volunteer.

❓ What does your neighborhood look like covered in snow? Send us pics! Reply to this email or send to

City Cast’s Simone Alicea saw people running, strolling, and walking dogs along the Lakefront Trail at Foster Beach Sunday. 

Two people walk along a cleared path on the lakefront in between lots of white snow. Buildings and the lake are in the distance.
(Image provided by Simone Alicea)


▪️ The city’s proof-of-vax requirement starts today. [City of Chicago]

▪️ In-person services at the DMV are closed for two weeks as COVID-19 cases rise. Have an expired ID like a certain newsletter writer? It’s valid until March 31. [Secretary of State]

▪️ More than 300 state laws went into effect Saturday, tackling issues like minimum wage and lemonade stands. [Chicago Sun-Times]

▪️ You need to watch Bulls star DeMar DeRozan’s back-to-back game-winning buzzer beaters against the Pacers AND Wizards 🤯

▪️ The Bears beat the Giants 29–3 🤯🤯🤯 It must be a new year. [Chicago Tribune]


+ TODAY: Chicago Industrial Arts & Design Center free CPS classes
Students can take free art classes this winter term at the Rogers Park studio

+ SATURDAY: Free Blackhawks hockey clinic
Kids can learn to play hockey at Mount Greenwood Park Saturday at 11 a.m.

+ THIS WEEK: “One-Man Star Wars Trilogy”
See the show at Lincoln Park’s Apollo Theater from Wednesday to Saturday.


Here’s a bonus holiday treat: Artist John Soss shared some of his fav festive decorations across the city from years past, and I’m personally loving Deflated Santa. (I know that’s how a lot of us felt by the end of 2021.)

If you didn’t get your fill of holiday decorations yet, don’t worry: I’m sure plenty of Chicagoans will “leave the Christmas lights up til’ January” 🎶

Pic 1: A small Santa stands behind a glowing life-size reindeer decoration. Pic 2: Gray stairs lead to a life-size Santa standing on a porch by a brown door and next to mail. Pic 3: A deflated Santa leans over face first next to some frozen plants.
Jefferson Park in 2015, Lincoln Park in 2018, and Little Village in 2019. (Images by John Soss)

👉 See Soss’ latest exhibit, “On the Beach,” at the Dime in Humboldt Park.

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