CHICAGO — Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Thursday announced a new effort to get more people vaccinated — the announcement comes as she continues to face criticism on safety protocols at Chicago Public Schools. 

The new vaccination effort is called Protect Chicago 77. So far, about 72% of all vaccine-eligible Chicagoans have received at least one dose of the shot. However, some zip codes have vaccination rates of less than 50%.

The campaign is aiming to ensure that at least 77% of all Chicago residents eligible for the vaccine will have started their COVID-19 vaccination series by the end of the year.

All Chicagoans are encouraged to take the Protect Chicago 77 pledge, promising to do their part to Protect Chicago and help the city recover from the pandemic. 

The statements against the mayor have been strong and consistent from the powerful Chicago Teachers Union. The opening of public schools they say have been a disaster and more COVID-19 safety precautions need to be in place like widespread testing but that’s not all.  

Some educators want temperature taking and more nurses in schools every day.

Linda Jiles is a school nurse at Jensen Elementary on the West Side. While CPS shows just a little more than 500 positive cases of COVID-19 district wide since school began — there are currently more than 9,500 students who have been identified as having close contact and the teachers union says are in quarantine. More than 150 at Jensen fall into the category.  

“For there to be 10 out of 17 classes in one school quarantined is a shame,” Crystal Williams-Hayes, CTU recording secretary, said. “We need the mayor to step it up over here.”

The mayor who in recent days has said she has been disappointed in the way cps opened this fall. The union is not only disappointed but says it’s left their members and students in danger of contracting the virus.  

“The virus is more contagious we have more people in the schools it’s worse in terms of the exposure but the testing program got scaled down,” CTU president Jesse Sharkey said.

“Them being on the sidelines and lobbing bombs isn’t going to get it done they need to be at the table with us,” Lightfoot said.

Along with CPS, the CTU will now also be joined at the table by the director of the Chicago Department Public Health Dr. Allison Arwady. The mayor wants her fully engaged to find better safety protocols in schools.