Confusion, chaos, and concern at Pritzker College Prep

In a letter emailed to families at 7:20 p.m. on Sunday, March 16, Noble CEO Constance Jones announced that all schools would be closed immediately rather than starting Tuesday due to a positive case of COVID-19 at Mansueto High School.

By Ericka Taboada ’22

With the whole world dealing with the uncertainty of a pandemic known as COVID-19 and the United States under national emergency, things are in constant change and it can be really frustrating and confusing to keep up. But what is it like to deal with this as a high school student at Pritzker?

On Friday, March 13, Governor J.B. Pritzker demanded all schools in Illinois to be closed starting Tuesday, March 17 through Monday, March 30. As of Mar. 19, Chicago’s mayor, Lori Lightfoot, decided Chicago Public Schools will be closed until Monday, April 20. Students at Pritzker were originally very perplexed because the Noble Network of Charter Schools decided to close their schools down on Monday, March 16 late Sunday night. “I was confused as to how we were going to get our work,” said senior Carina Lopez in an interview via messenger on March 17. 

Due to schools being closed earlier than expected, Carrie Spitz, principal of Pritzker College Prep, sent out an email to her students informing them that they would receive an email on Tuesday, March 17 from a specific dean, depending on their grade level, informing them about the assignments they should be working on during this closure.

Contrary to Lopez, sophomore Amayrami Tapia said in an interview via text on March 16, “I feel at ease with the decision that the Noble Network made since I knew school was going to be closed at some point.” Similarly, junior Cristian Gutierrez said, “I wasn’t at all concerned for the closure to begin earlier than that of Chicago Public Schools since I knew that the country was closing places to reduce the spread of COVID-19,” in an interview via text on March 16.

Along with the decision of closing all Noble Network buildings, the Noble Network announced on Sunday night their first confirmed case of COVID-19 at Mansueto High School. “I was shocked to hear about a case at Mansueto since it is a charter school and it could’ve easily been Pritzker,” said junior Mirna Pineda in an interview via text on March 16. Similarly, freshman Albert Garcia said, “I realized this situation is serious and no longer a joke.”

With the situation becoming less of a movie and more of a reality, the students are beginning to be more cautious. Tapia said, “My family has taken this seriously since the start and now they go out less to avoid large crowds,” which is what the CDC has been suggesting, along with other guidelines. 

Pineda, who at first wasn’t taking this situation at all seriously, has begun to be more cautious as to where she goes because she has family members who have health problems and she doesn’t want to get them infected.

With the uncertainty of this whole situation, juniors like Gutierrez and Pineda are “alarmed” because as juniors, they “take the SAT in April, and the last few weeks of March were supposed to be our last days of preparation for the test,” said Pineda. Gutierrez sees this closure as a waste of time for people who needed this time to prepare for big events in their life like the SAT.

Seniors are also missing out on a lot and are afraid of many things. Lopez said, “I am worried about my graduation because I want to graduate on time and go to college.” Along with worries about graduating later, Lopez says she’s worried that her class will miss out on experiencing things like senior dinner, which was postponed on Mar. 11, as well as senior prom, the status of which has not been announced.

Freshmen also feel like this time off school is making it harder for them to focus on school, such as the case of Garcia, who said, “The closure makes me feel stressed because I am receiving a lot of work which can be hard to get done due to the distractions at home” in an interview on Tuesday, March 17 via text.

There are still many unknowns as of March 17. The country, state, and Noble Network are working to see what will happen with many events scheduled for the future and “are doing the best they can given the circumstances” according to Tapia and others at Pritzker.