Chicago’s top doctor, Dr. Allison Arwady, has been informed by the mayor of Chicago that she was being fired from her position as the commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health. The city’s progressive new mayor, Brandon Johnson, vowed to fire Arwady during his election campaign and he has since followed through on his promise. While Dr. Arwady is widely revered as an esteemed health care professional, many believe that her push to reopen schools during the pandemic was the real reason behind her firing.
Johnson recently avoided answering questions pertaining to Arwady’s termination, which only added to speculation that the mayor sought revenge for the doctor’s quest to re-open schools in February 2021 amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Up until 2022, Chicago’s teachers were adamant about not returning to school until their list of demands were met. Classes for the region’s 350,000 students were continuously canceled as teachers turned down opportunities to return to their classrooms. Educators insisted that kids should be forced to take Covid tests without parental consent. Chicago Public Schools remained closed for months as teachers went on strike.
Johnson, who replaced Lori Lightfoot as mayor in May, was eager to give Arwady the ax. Johnson was vocally opposed to Arwady’s efforts to reopen schools due to safety concerns. While Johnson initially told voters that he would fire Arwady if he were elected, he then said he would meet with her before coming to a decision.
Dr. Arwady said that her dismissal was “not a surprise” but she took offense to how Johnson handled the task. “The manner of it, I think, was unnecessarily destabilizing to my department,” she told reporters. While she claims to be “respectful” of Johnson’s decision, Arwady appears to be uneasy about the future of the Department of Public Health. “I’m just concerned that the way it was made will actually make it harder to bring in a new commissioner,” she said. Arwady added that the position requires “someone who really understands public health and has the expertise and the knowledge to lead [the] department.”
January 2022, while most of the country had safely returned to a normal in-person classroom routine, Chicago’s union voted to cancel in-person classes. Parents were against the controversial decision, alleging that it was made simply so teachers could stay home. The lack of classroom education frustrated parents, and Dr. Arwady was dedicated to getting children back into Chicago Public Schools.
Instead of being forthcoming about his decision to fire Dr. Arwady, Mayor Johnson tried to dodge questions and deflect accountability. “Transition is difficult for everyone,” he stated. His answer then shifted from intentionally vague to downright strange when he went on a tangent about the late rapper, Tupac Shakur. “I don’t know how many times you’re allowed to quote Tupac in a press conference, you can’t always go by the things that you hear,” he said, before adding, “’Real eyes, right? Realize, real lies. That’s also Tupac Shakur.”