Chicago teachers defy district order in vote to continue remote learning

Chicago Teachers Union members voted Sunday to defy an order from Chicago Public Schools to return to in-person instruction due to concerns over the coronavirus pandemic, CBS Chicago reports.

CPS, the nation’s third-largest school district behind New York and Los Angeles, previously called the move an attempt to “cancel in-person learning for tens of thousands” of children, and added that it would be treated as an illegal strike. CTU members argue that it would only be a strike if teachers cannot log on for remote learning. Some teachers have already been locked out of their accounts.

Kindergarten through eighth grade teachers were originally scheduled to return to classrooms Monday. Students in kindergarten through eighth grade are set to return a week later on Monday, February 1. In response to the CTU vote, CPS pushed the return date to Wednesday, January 27, as negotiations continue. The scheduled return date for students has not changed.

While we agree with our labor partners on many aspects of a smooth expansion of in-person learning, our discussions are ongoing. To ensure we reach a resolution without a disruption to student learning, we’ve agreed to push back the return of K-8 teachers, staff to Wed, 1/27.

Remote learning will continue until then, but those students and teachers who have already returned to in-person learning will remain in the classroom.

CTU argues that a return to the classroom before teachers are vaccinated against COVID-19 is unsafe. The district has announced plans to vaccinate staff, but that process would not begin until mid-February.

The Associated Press said the school district has roughly 355,000 students and the union represents roughly 25,000 members. It also pointed out that Illinois is scheduled to start the next phase of its vaccination program on Monday, expanding accessibility to teachers and people 65 and older. Meanwhile, President Biden has also said he wants a majority of schools to reopen within the first 100 days of his administration.

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