Union officers, educators, nurses, and state and city officials discuss negotiations for a safe return.
CHICAGO, IL (STL.News) As negotiations for a safe return to in-person instruction continue between the Chicago Teachers Union and Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s CPS leadership team; Union educators will be conducting teach-outs across the city today before launching car caravans from nearly 20 communities to Chicago City Hall.
Today’s day of action begins with a 7 a.m. press conference at Spry Elementary in Little Village, where, last week, 130 students were absent on January 3, and more than 30 percent of students present tested positive for COVID-19. Fifteen out of 18 classrooms at Spry are in quarantine until January 18.
The Union has been at the bargaining table for the past six months with CPS and Mayor Lightfoot, seeking collaboration and mitigation strategies to keep students, educators, and school communities safe. COVID-19 testing remains a sticking point between the two sides, as the mayor has described opt-out COVID-19 testing as “morally repugnant,” despite the fact that Chicago charter schools, dozens of other Illinois districts, and more nationwide have been administering opt-out tests this school year. There is also no federal law prohibiting CPS from moving to opt-out testing.
The Union is proposing that CPS implement a COVID-19 screening test program that allows students to opt-out, and that, on a randomized basis, tests at least 10 percent of the student and staff population every week at every school and CPS worksite. This is described in the Testing Recommendations by Level of Community Transmission in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s Operational Strategy for K-12 Schools through Phased Prevention.
The CTU proposal also tackles determining when there is widespread COVID-19 infection in an in-person learning environment. If more than 25 percent of staff are absent due to COVID-19, individual schools would revert to temporary virtual learning. Individual schools would also pause in-person learning when 30 percent or more of elementary school children and more than 25 percent of high school students are out with COVID-19.
The district’s current contact tracing procedures have been riddled with problems, including delays of a week or more to notify educators and parents of positive cases. The Union’s proposal would put contact tracing for students directly into the hands of trusted school personnel, setting up teams of educators at each school who would work part-time to take responsibility for contact tracing.
NOTE: CTU day of action begins with a press conference at Spry Elementary in Little Village, where, last week, 130 students were absent on January 3, and more than 30 percent of students present tested positive for COVID-19.
Monday, January 10, 2022
- 7 a.m.: Press conference with rank-and-file educators, nurses, CTU officers, and SEIU Local 73 partners at Spry Elementary, 2400 S. Marshall, in Little Village. Live-streamed on CTU Facebook.
- 8-10 a.m.: Citywide teach-outs, with educators signing students up for COVID-19 testing and neighborhood canvassing. B-roll opportunities at 10 a.m. at Kenwood Academy (parking lot, corner of Lake Park Ave. and 51st./Hyde Park Blvd.) and Eggers Grove, 112th and Ave. E.
- 10 a.m.: Car caravans depart, converging at Chicago City Hall at noon.