State Watch

Chicago teacher union mulling refusal of in-person work over COVID concerns

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The Chicago Teachers Union will vote Tuesday on whether they support switching back to remote work this week after returning to in-person classes during a surge in COVID-19 infections. 

The union’s 25,000 members will all receive an electronic ballot on Wednesday asking if they support making the switch to remote work. The union’s governing body, a 600-member House of Delegates, will also meet on Tuesday to discuss the plans just one day after classes resumed on Monday, according to The Chicago Tribune

“I am so pissed off that we have to continuously fight for the basic necessities, the basic mitigations,” the union’s vice president, Stacy Davis Gates, told reporters on Monday, according to The Associated Press
Chicago Public Schools said in response to the union vote that it was “deeply concerned” about a “refusal to work” that “could place the health and safety of members of our community, particularly our students, at increased risk,” the Tribune reported.

The Hill has reached out to Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and to the teachers union for comment.

Some Chicago aldermen have also raised concerns about the city’s return to in-person schooling. 

“@ChiPubSchools hasn’t done what’s necessary for the return and it’s not okay for us to pretend like they have,” Alderwoman Maria Hadden wrote on Twitter. “We’re in the highest covid spike yet. The testing and contract tracing systems for CPS were inadequate before the surge and staffing levels are critically low.”

Chicago currently has a daily average of 3,940 new cases, up 42 percent from last week, according to data from the city.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D) said in a statement she was committed to keeping students “safely in school”. 

“We cannot forget that shifting fully to remote learning is not a panacea and comes with significant harm to students and their families,” Lightfoot said in a statement posted to Twitter by a spokesperson.   

“The best thing that we can do for our students, staff and all our partners at CPS is to get vaccinated. Keeping kids safely in school where they can learn and thrive is what we should all be focused on,” her statement added.

New York City’s newly sworn-in Mayor Eric Adams has also insisted that schools will stay open despite notable upticks in infections. He said on Monday that schools “are going to be safe and we will be open to educate our children.” 

“We’re going to pivot. We’re going to shift. We’re going to adjust. We’re going to get it done. That’s the bottom line. We’re going to keep schools open,” Adams added.

Tags Chicago Public Schools COVID-19 surge in-person schooling Lori Lightfoot

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