Chicago Mayor Stands Firm Against Proposed Plan from Chicago Teachers Union

The Chicago Teachers Union and city leaders remained at odds over the weekend; the two parties debated whether to go back to schoolrooms in the face of a COVID-19 spike.

The Proposal

The association voted last Tuesday evening to help educate virtually, citing the sudden uptick of COVID-19 caused by omicron as hazardous conditions for in-person education.

New COVID-19 instances and hospital admissions among kids reached historic highs; the union cited insufficient staff numbers and testing.

Chicago Public Schools (CPS), which serve approximately 340,000 schoolchildren, reacted by canceling school entirely.

CPS said there was no way of sending youngsters to school without knowing whether teachers would be present and that schools were secure.

Together with a succession of COVID-19 protective measures, the CTU’s proposed plan urges union members to resume in-person work on Monday, with digital learning starting for CPS schoolchildren on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, January 18, CTU recommended restarting in-person instruction “only if (the Chicago Department of Health Services) or the State of Illinois ascertain that general populace health circumstances are secure for an in-person teacher at the time.”

City Authorities’ Reactions

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Chicago Public Schools CEO Pedro Martinez released their joint declaration, claiming CTU officials were “not paying attention.”

School is the best and safest place for children to be.

According to the statement, students must return to classrooms as soon as possible. That is what parents desire. That is supported by science and they will not back down.

Lightfoot informed CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Friday that she hoped to reach an agreement over the weekend. She emphasized, while authorities are willing to close individual schools if necessary, district-wide virtual learning is unavailable.

The city declared the stalemate a work stoppage. The union claims it is a lockout because educators want to tutor from home until the current wave subsides, but the district canceled all classes.

Tennille Evans, a CTU organizer, told journalists on Friday educators are ready to work “under good circumstances” and they want “testing, testing, testing,” among other protective measures.

According to teacher Briana Hambright-Hall, they request schoolchildren come back negative before accessing the building. A two-week break (from in-person education) is not excessive.

Falin Johnson, a second-grade teacher, intends to ensure protection. He wants to be certain he is safe. He wants to guarantee the protection of his children and his grandparents.

City lawmakers stated schools are safe, due to the protective measures implemented by the district.

According to Chicago Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady, who spoke to CNN this week, they’ve seen with the proper precautions in place, schools aren’t the primary contributors of COVID transmission.

They don’t cause infections; they’ve seen Chicago Public Schools, as well as non-public schools in the city, do a good job of implementing them.