Mayor Lori Lightfoot (left) and Janice Jackson (second from left), CEO of Chicago Public Schools, visit a preschool classroom at Dawes Elementary School in Chicago on Jan. 11. The district wants more personal classes to resume next week. The teachers union wants to continue teaching at a distance. Ashlee Rezin Garcia / AP Hide caption
Ashlee Rezin Garcia / AP
Ashlee Rezin Garcia / AP
The city of Chicago and its teachers are fast approaching a showdown.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the Chicago Public Schools have planned to reopen for some face-to-face classes next week. However, the Chicago Teachers Union is concerned about the logistics of getting back to school while the pandemic continues.
In a letter to staff and families Friday night, Janice Jackson, CEO of Lightfoot and School District said that certain Pre-K teachers and other staff who did not report to classrooms on Monday would “and would have been absent without a vacation.” need to do their access to online teaching materials has been revoked.
If the district keeps this promise, it could lead to a second teachers’ strike in town in less than two years. The union has announced that it will go on strike if the district locks teachers out from home work.
“We love your children,” said the union wrote in a letter to parents earlier this week. “We really want to be in the classroom with them again, but we are unwilling to accept the inevitable illness and death that a ruthless reopening of our city will cause.”
The Chicago Public Schools had planned that about 60,000 kindergartens should return to the classroom by eighth grade in the past week. In light of the educators’ setback, the city called for a “cooling off” period until Thursday so that negotiations could continue.
Late Friday, CPS proposed a staggered return to the classroom, with some pre-K and special classes starting Tuesday, kindergarten through fifth graders on February 22, and sixth through eighth graders on March 1, according to the Chicago Tribune Reports. As of Saturday, the union had not yet responded to this plan.
A CTU spokesman tells NPR that teachers will do everything possible to avoid a strike. “We will remain negotiating until an agreement is reached that will maximize safety for our school communities,” said Chris Geovanis. “We will continue to teach remotely until an agreement is reached.”
However, an agreement remains elusive. The main sticking point is whether you accept CDC guidelines to see if it is safe to reopen schools. Across the country, certain precautionary measures have allowed some schools to reopen relatively safely, CDC scientists wrote in an article last month. The federal government will publish new guidelines for reopening schools in the coming week.
“The mayor’s offer would only disrupt face-to-face learning across the district if 50 percent of Chicago Public Schools buildings had simultaneous COVID-19 outbreaks,” the union said said Friday. That is not acceptable to the union.
“CPS’s rejection of CDC health metrics is profoundly undermining safety in school communities,” said CTU President Jesse Sharkey. “If they are serious about the science that says schools are only safe if they also get proper damage control and community prevalence is low, they need to stop using the science-based metrics from the same agency they are on Every step of the way parrots refuse. “
Another sticking point is vaccination: the union wants teachers to be able to get vaccinated before they return to work. But the city says there aren’t enough cans to get around.
“You want to give teachers priority over all other residents of our city,” Lightfoot said in a statement on Friday. But the city is only getting 5,700 first doses a day to spread across the city, officials said. There is no stock.
“This is what CTU wants: Give CTU members – and only CTU members – 20,000 vaccines now,” said Lightfoot said. But to implement this plan, “we would have to stop distributing vaccines across town for everyone else.” Lightfoot said this was not a “fair” solution.
Chicago schools have offered to vaccinate 1,500 CPS employees per week, giving priority to employees with medically vulnerable family members.
In one Explanation On Friday, the union called the mayor’s vaccination plan a “Hunger Games” system of vaccine distribution given to employees expected to return first or those living in or in the city’s hardest-hit communities work, does not give priority.
“Educators who have been pushed back into buildings could wait until June for vaccinations from CPS, months after the mayor proposes to fully reopen school buildings,” the union wrote.
Another Point of contention is whether employees with vulnerable family members should be given special accommodation so that they can continue working from home.
Chicago teachers previously went on strike for 11 days in October 2019on topics like class sizes and nurses and social workers in schools.