'Relief Stipends', Laptops Among List of 39 Demands of Chicago Students During Walkout

An organization of Chicago students recently announced that they are planning a "district-wide" walkout on Friday and released a list of 39 demands they would like to see from Chicago Public Schools (CPS).

"Chicago public school's radical youth alliance has come forth with a list of demands that we believe is the bare minimum of things that @ChiPubSchools leadership can implement in response to the crises we have seen in our communities," the organization, known as Chicago Public School's Radical Youth Alliance (Chi-RADS), wrote on Twitter.

The tweet included a list of 39 demands, which included "maintaining building upkeep and quality facilities," accessible COVID-19 testing for all students, "sufficient N-95 masks along with the other face coverings PPE & medical grade masks," and laptops for all students.

"Much like COVID relief packages, students should receive COVID relief stipends to help cover the necessities that families are going through during these times beyond food," the student organization said in the list of demands. "Many families are living paycheck to paycheck and this pandemic affects people's ability to work. And that, unfortunately, affects our ability to live."

The list also demanded that CPS provide "every student with their own personal laptop." The students said that the laptop should be updated with the latest operating system as well as having at least "4GB RAM & 512GB storage, and at least 8 hours of battery life."

The students also said that they should be able to keep the laptops during their entire time as students of CPS, regardless of whether classes move to virtual due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The full list of 39 demands can be found here, which was posted on the Chi-RADS Twitter account on Monday.

A day after the students issued the list of demands, they announced a district-wide walkout scheduled for Friday.

"Chicago's students are glad to announce that we will be walking out of our schools friday, january 14th at 12:30pm. we stand with ourselves, our own safety, our own health. we keep us safe, we keep us loved. please stay in tune with our social medias for more updates!" the Chi-RADS said in a tweet.

In a statement sent to Newsweek, a spokesperson for CPS said that CPS "remains committed to fostering learning environments that allow students to respectfully deliberate issues with evidence and an open mind – and safely participate in civic action."

"It is appropriate in classes or special school events to create an environment where students of all viewpoints feel that they can express themselves in a safe and respectful environment," the statement continued.

According to the CPS spokesperson, the student's demands will be reviewed by school administrators.

Last week, the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) protested against in-person learning, forcing CPS to close school for several days. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot called the protest an "illegal walkout," but the union and the mayor eventually reached an agreement to resume in-person teaching.

"This agreement covers only a portion of the safety guarantees that every one of our school communities deserve. Put bluntly, we have a boss who does not know how to negotiate, does not know how to hear real concerns and is not willing to respect our rank and file enough to listen to us when we tell her we need more protection. Our members' vote today represents a union's, and a city's, frustration with a mayor that has simmered since the beginning of this pandemic," CTU President Jesse Sharkey said in a statement following the agreement.

A spokesperson for CTU told Newsweek that the union stands with the student's demands for safety, equity and trust.

Chicago Public Schools
A group of Chicago students recently announced it will be holding a student walkout on Friday and issued a list of 39 demands, including "relief stipends" and laptops for all students. Above, members of the Chicago Teachers Union and their supporters participate in a car caravan around City Hall to protest against in-person learning in Chicago public schools on January 10, 2022 in Chicago. Scott Olson/Getty