CategoriesCEO Letter

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought immense challenges to the education sector, in Chicago, and across the world. The unprecedented scenario, demanded a ‘fast’ and without foregoing reaction. Over 90% of students (and their families, obviously) were fully impacted by the face-to-face class closures in our city.

The great majority of our Latino families in Chicago were away from their schools for almost a year. The agreement between Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the Chicago Teachers Union guarantees, at the end, that we have options to choose in-person learning for our children. We can now also make a plan that is best for all. This will also encourage small business development, which needs a recovery to stay open. This will get more people on the streets, and if we all use masks, keep our social distance and maintain our essential activities, the economy will thrive again.

This decision reaffirms the soundness and fairness of the economic plan that us, at the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (IHCC) has been working on with City of Chicago economic officials. Also, it provides certainty that returning to schools will be under the best possible health protocols so that everyone feels safe.

We agree with this additional support to families who need more today than remote learning can provide.

Schools are the key strategies to end the major roadblock that the coronavirus has brought us under. Reopening them is a decision that will have positive impacts on our economy and our families’ pockets.

Getting students back to school will boost the economy by allowing their parents to return to work instead of staying at home to care for their children. With schools closed, the natural rate of unemployment is higher.

Having children not going to classrooms is a families’ burden. Which is a particularly burdensome for many small business owners, freelancers, and contractors. If they don’t go out daily, they will not receive income to pay for their most basic expenses.

Remote education placed a liability on many Hispanic households by taking one of the parents out of the labor market (most often the mother) to bestow more time to childcare/help with remote learning.

But we also have background factors to look at. By returning to schools, the students will get the skills to have access to better jobs and contribute more to the overall economy in the future.

Closed schools will only end up reducing children’s lifetime earnings, and impacting Illinois’ GDP in the long term. Zoom is not a perfect substitute for face-to-face lessons.

Without health, no one can live –but without jobs, there will be no food on the table to keep us alive. Among progress and setbacks, closures or reopening –and fake news– us in the IHCC have to give people access to truthful, science-based information. That way, the parents will understand the importance of their children going back to school. We can already see the light at the end of the tunnel. As I always say, we will come out of this crisis stronger. The IHCC is here to help.


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