Chicago Public Schools to end mask mandate March 14

Chicago Public Schools to end mask mandate March 14

Chicago Public Schools will make masks optional for students and staff starting March 14, following CDC guidance. The Chicago Teacher’s Union said union leaders were working to block the decision and keep students masked.

Chicago Public Schools will lift their indoor mask mandate starting March 14, allowing students and staff to go mask-optional following guidance from local, state and federal public health experts.

The Chicago Teachers Union immediately moved to stop parents, students and staff from making their own decisions on masks. The union is trying to enforce the deal they got after walking out on students for five school days in January.

A statement released by CPS said the decision comes as COVID-19 cases have sharply declined in schools and throughout Chicago while vaccination and testing rates among students are on the rise.

The district said it will continue to encourage masking indoors in schools while honoring the personal choice of students and staff to go without.

“CPS was one of the first to require universal masking in schools, and we would not be moving to a mask-optional model unless the data and our public health experts indicated that it is safe for our school communities,” CPS CEO Pedro Martinez said. “We will support our staff and students as we enter this new phase in the pandemic and continue to move forward together.”

Other Illinois schools went mask-optional Feb. 28, and some gained that right earlier after suing Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s administration over his statewide mask mandate.

Following the announcement that CPS schools would join nearly all other Illinois schools in making masks optional, the Chicago Teacher’s Union released a statement claiming the policy was in violation of the Jan. 12 safety agreement established with the district.

The CTU statement said union leaders will be filing an unfair labor practice charge against CPS to force district leaders to bargain over the mask-optional policy.

Chicago reported 191 new daily COVID-19 cases and a citywide positivity rate of 0.8% on March 7, the lowest rates seen since July 2021. The city was also at low risk for coronavirus by every metric measured by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

CPS reported 56% of age-eligible students had received at least one dose and more than 91% of staff were fully vaccinated.

CTU’s tactics to get its way could grow more militant if a change to the Illinois Constitution is approved by voters Nov. 8. Amendment 1 would protect strike powers and expand them into a host of issues other than compensation, giving unions such as CTU the ability to take even more choice away from students and parents over what is reasonable and what the science tells us.

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