Chicago Teachers Union Votes To Return To Remote Learning

Kevin Bessler, The Center Square

Due to an increase in COVID-19-related cases, Chicago Teachers Union voted Tuesday night to call for remote learning at Chicago Public Schools.

On Wednesday, teachers decided to not report to their schools.

CPS students returned to school Monday morning after their winter break. However, union leaders have warned that classrooms in the district are dangerous. After the union vote, the nation’s third largest school district canceled all classes and activities for Wednesday.

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“The Chicago Teachers’ Union (CT) has voted not to report to work tomorrow, therefore classes will be canceled for all CPS students on Wednesday, Jan. 5,” Chicago Public Schools CEO Pedro Martinez said in a message to families. “We apologize for the late nature of this message given the CT’s technical difficulties during their vote. There will be no in-person or remote instruction tomorrow, and parents should not plan to send children to school.”

“I understand your frustration and deeply regret this interruption to your child’s learning. I also understand that you need certainty about what the coming days will look like for your students,” he said. “My team and I are working on a plan and will share details with you by the end of the day tomorrow. We want our children back in their classrooms as soon as possible and will continue working with the CT to reach an agreement that addresses their concerns and that is in the best interest of all in our CPS community, especially our children.”

Martinez visited several schools on Monday and said that learning should continue in person. Only affected classes should be moved to distance learning. He said efforts to test in some of the city’s most vulnerable neighborhoods did not go well because many at-home test kits were thrown out because they arrived at the lab too late.

CPS released data showing that 35,590 COVID-19 test were taken by staff and students between December 26th and January 1st. 24,843 tests were declared invalid. 18.5% of those who took the test were found to be positive for COVID.

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CPS teachers can only work remotely if it’s sanctioned by the Chicago Board of Education.

“The challenge with having a districtwide action is it puts everybody in the same umbrella and then it becomes very challenging at how to reverse that,” Martinez said. “We can keep it at the school level and respond to the data.”

Martinez announced that Wednesday classes will be cancelled, however schools will continue to be open to students.

“CEO Martinez and I are committed to continuing to work in good faith to ensure school communities remain a safe and nurturing environment for children and staff. What we have learned from this pandemic is that schools are the safest place for students to be,” Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in a statement.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker indicated that no plans are currently in place to reinstate online learning across the State. Pritzker answered a question about whether or not he believed a transition to online learning was necessary.

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“I’ve said all along that it’s better for our students to have them in class,” he said. “But safely, and so that’s why we’ve provided and offered testing and we’ve offered and provided more vaccinations.”

Syndicated with permission from The Center Square.