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Chicago teachers will continue to work remotely even as CPS re-opens high schools

By staff

Chicago, IL – Over the weekend of April 11, the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) was in bargaining with Chicago Public Schools (CPS) over the reopening of high schools in Chicago. The areas of disagreement revolve around accommodations for vulnerable teachers, scheduling to keep staff and students safe, remote work, and access to vaccines for students and family.

Coming out of that latest round of bargaining, CTU announced that all high school staff would work remotely starting on April 14 in the absence of adequate movement at the table, or a recommended agreement on resuming in-person learning in high school buildings.

Only around 25% of students have chosen to return to in-person learning, with strong majorities feeling that it is not safe to return in person, at the same time as a third surge in COVID cases is ramping up every day at an alarming pace. Many students reside in Chicago’s South Side where access to vaccine shots has been particularly hard to come by.

CTU says that CPS has dragged its feet on granting accommodations requests to hundreds of educators, with conditions that make them or family members vulnerable to COVID, life-threatening illnesses, or child care issues, and that CPS is putting those people’s lives in danger.

CTU went on to state that the Chicago Department of Public Health Director Alison Arwady – working at the behest of Mayor Lori Lightfoot – told the CTU at the bargaining table this weekend that she was unconcerned about bringing thousands of unvaccinated teens back into school buildings in a week. CTU likened this to a “ Hunger Games” system of vaccine distribution.

Surrounding states like Michigan have recently ordered pauses to things like indoor dining, sports programs, and in-person learning. In Chicago, Mayor Lori Lightfoot is still not allowing students aged 16 and up to get the vaccines, even though those are largely the groups in which COVID is currently spreading the fastest.

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