Hopefully it sticks.
The Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) have a proposal to return to the classroom for the first time since March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The CTU insisted the two sides still need “a formal agreement.” They consider the proposal a “framework that all of our members must first review and assess.”
In other words, they will find something wrong and push back the return date again.
Here are the proposed return dates:
- In-person classes for pre-kindergarten and special education cluster program would resume Thursday;
- Kindergarten through fifth grade staff would return Feb. 22, with students following March 1;
- Sixth through eighth grade staff would return March 1, followed by students a week later.
The union basically has until February 22 to cause another fuss.
A few other details:
- Union teachers do not have a requirement to return to work “prior to having the opportunity to be fully vaccinated.”
- 2,000 vaccines will be made available to preschool and special education teachers this week.
- CPS will give 1,500 vaccines to teachers each week.
- Teachers and students aged 10 and up will have an opportunity to get tested when they return to school.
- Those in “high COVID” neighborhoods will be tested every week.
- Half of the employees will be tested every week
The schools will stop in-person teaching for 14 days if Chicago has a positive test rate for seven days. A pause will also happen if the city’s positive rate “jumps at least 15% each day compared to that week prior and climbs to 10% or higher on the seventh day.”
A pause could also happen in one class if one or more students has a positive case. The entire school will halt in-person learning if it has three or more cases.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot decided to allow employees with high-risk household members to work remotely.
CPS already made adjustments prior to this proposal, including requiring masks, HEPA ventilation, social distancing rules, and temperature checks.
So what’s the next step? The union vote, which has 25,000 members, will likely happen on Monday or Tuesday:
Highlighting the hyperdemocratic nature of CTU, sources with the union have been careful to call it a “tentative framework,” rather than an agreement, and said they believe the deal represents the best one members could have achieved at the table, although the union did not receive everything it wanted.
“We understand the (members have) the right to say yes or say no, but in fairness to parents who’ve really weathered an incredible storm, particularly over the course of this week and the ups and the downs … given that we have a written document back from them, we felt this was an appropriate time for us to give parents a preview with the caveat that it’s subject to ratification,” Lightfoot said.
CTU President Jesse Sharkey complained that the CPS had “contempt for the union’s concerns” and acted like the refusal to teach “was an act of malice against children.”
Sharkey said this even though the CPS promised the same steps taken by every other school district: require masks, health screenings, social distancing, new ventilation, HEPA filters, etc.
Lightfoot reminded the CTU that parents and students have said publicly that they felt as if they “have been held hostage and your voices have been drowned out.”
Unfortunately, the plan does not include high school students. There is no plan for those students:
[CPS CEO Janice] Jackson said she’d like to have them back in school “as soon as possible” but didn’t say whether that would happen this school year.
“What we committed to is working with the union to get there,” Jackson said. “I don’t want to start negotiating at the podium today. We just got a victory after a long fight … but my stance remains the same, I think that children should be in school.”
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