State Watch

Chicago Teachers Union proposes keeping classes remote until Jan. 18, eases testing demands

The Chicago Teachers Union is proposing that city schools keep classes remote until at least Jan. 18, but has eased its testing demands for the third largest school district in the country. 

The union announced their latest proposal on Saturday amid tense negotiations with Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D) that have left classes canceled for around 350,000 students the past three days. 

In the proposal approved by the union’s House of Delegates and executive board Saturday morning, classes would resume in-person on Jan. 18 provided the Chicago Department of Public Health and the state do not say it is unsafe to do so at that time. 

The teachers have refused to go to work in person since Wednesday due to the rise in COVID-19 cases, alleging that the city has not done enough to ensure their safety. 

Lightfoot has called the union’s actions illegal and says the city has spent $100 million to keep the schools safe. She has said any proposal that includes sending the whole district to remote learning will not be accepted.

Lightfoot has said individual schools should decide when to close based on their individual COVID-19 situations and there should be no sweeping closures for the whole district.

The union cut back their prior COVID-19 testing demands, proposing randomized testing of at least 10 percent of students and staff at each school weekly. Under the proposal, parents would have the option to opt their children out of the testing program.

The proposal would have Chicago public school educators in buildings next week handing out devices that are currently warehoused and unused, signing up students for COVID-19 testing as they pick up those devices, and begin remote education Wednesday, Jan. 12 through Friday, Jan. 14, as the current surge worsens,” the union stated. 

It is unclear if students will have classes on Monday amid the fight between the city and union as a group of Chicago parents sued the union on Thursday to get teachers back in the classroom. 

The Hill has reached out to the mayor’s office for comment.

Tags Chicago Chicago Public Schools Chicago Teachers Union COVID-19 COVID-19 testing Illinois Lori Lightfoot Lori Lightfoot school closures Testing requirements

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