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Lightfoot gets COVID-19 in Wake of CPS Drama, Further Proof the Virus Won’t Bend to Our Will

Rex Huppke, Tribune Content Agency on

Nobody in their right mind wants to test positive for COVID-19. If you’re the mayor of Chicago and you just resolved a tense standoff with the Chicago Teachers Union that kept kids out of public schools and drew national attention, you DEFINITELY don’t want to test positive for COVID-19.

But viruses don’t much care what anybody wants. So on Tuesday, the day after announcing Chicago Public Schools would reopen this week for in-person learning over the protests of many worried about the rapid spread of the omicron variant, Mayor Lori Lightfoot tested positive for COVID-19.

Her symptoms are reportedly mild, and since she’s vaccinated and boosted, she’ll likely be fine. I wish her a quick recovery, as should everyone. She’ll work remotely and follow CDC guidelines before returning to work.

Politically, of course, the timing is terrible. But there again, viruses don’t much care about politics, or timing.

That’s the thing so many here and across this instant-gratification-obsessed nation of ours can’t quite reckon with: A pandemic requires patience. And patience, like at-home COVID-19 test kits, is in short supply.

Consider the things many in Chicago have wanted this past week.

 

They wanted Chicago Public Schools to be open for in-person learning because it’s clearly in the best interest of children. That’s factually correct. But that scenario is grounded in a belief that in-person learning will happen and the omicron variant, which has proven good at evading vaccines, won’t spread quickly to adult teachers and administrators, leading them to isolate and making it impossible to staff the schools.

So while a person might sensibly want their school wide open, the virus might have other ideas. We know this is possible because it has happened at schools in the city and in the suburbs.

According to a Daily Southtown report: “Matteson Elementary Districts 159 and Thornton Township High School District 205 won’t allow students back into buildings until later this month. Homewood Elementary District 153 and High School District 230, which includes Carl Sandburg, Stagg and Andrew high schools, opted for remote learning for a portion of last week. … District 159, with schools in Matteson and Richton Park, said staffing issues due to COVID-19 prompted the delay in a return to the classroom. Students will learn remotely until Jan. 18, after Martin Luther King Jr. Day.”

So CPS will bring kids back Wednesday and give it a shot. I’m sure many weary parents will breathe a sigh of relief. But how long that relief lasts will depend not on teachers or administrators or the strength of parental prayer but on a virus that continues to make a mess of everyone’s lives.

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