Chicago Teachers Union uses COVID-19 to walk out on students, again

Chicago Teachers Union uses COVID-19 to walk out on students, again

Chicago schools closed Jan. 5 when the Chicago Teachers Union voted to keep members out of classrooms, trying to force an end to in-person learning over COVID-19 concerns.

Chicago Public Schools closed Jan. 5 after the Chicago Teachers Union voted late the night before to refuse to report to classrooms because COVID-19 safety demands weren’t met.

Parents were left scrambling for child care at the last minute, prompting the Chicago Public Schools chief to leave school buildings open for parents who didn’t have a safe place for their children.

School leaders noted New York and Los Angeles schools remained open. Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she was frustrated with CTU after the 2019 teacher strike and repeated battles trying to bring students back to class after COVID-19 initially closed schools.

“There is no basis in the data, the science or common sense for us to shut an entire system down when we can surgically do this at a school level,” Lightfoot told the Chicago Tribune.

After failing to satisfy the teachers’ union, Chicago Public Schools will halt in-person learning until Jan. 18 unless CPS and CTU can reach an agreement.

CPS CEO Pedro Martinez tried to strike a deal before the union’s Jan. 4 vote by proposing a metric based on absences that would shut down individual schools experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak.

His proposal also included 200,000 additional KN95 masks to staff, more contact tracing and daily health screeners to schools who want them.

Along with other demands, CTU wants all students, faculty, and volunteers to provide a negative COVID test before returning to school, which only a handful of districts in Illinois have done.

They also want to reinstate a health measure that triggers a district-wide closure based on citywide positivity rates.

Even though classes were cancelled, Martinez said buildings would be open if parents could not make child care arrangements. Martinez stressed that schools are safe, and his proposal was to calm fears that CPS staff or parents may have.

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