The teachers’ union voted to remain remote.
The Chicago Public School district of Chicago, Illinois is the third-largest school district in the entire United States. With a kindergarten to eighth grade student population of over 70,000, the district has been calling on at least 10,000 teachers to prepare to return to in-person schooling today. The initial goal was to welcome students back today, then begin the school year in earnest on February 1. However, following a vote over the weekend, the Chicago Teachers Union have decided overwhelmingly against this motion.
The majority of the union’s members voted to push back the date of return to physical schooling, choosing instead to continue remote learning until the COVID-19 pandemic has been safely dealt with. CPS has insisted that the return date remain February 1, but has pushed back the greeting day from today to Wednesday in the interest of striking a deal with the union.
“The scheduled return date for students in grades K-8 remains Monday, Feb. 1, and it is our goal to reach an agreement with CTU as soon as possible to ensure tens of thousands of additional students have the opportunity safely return to our classrooms,” CPS said Sunday.
“Students in over 130 private and parochial schools and over 2,000 early learning centers across the city have been safely learning in their classrooms since the fall, and we must provide that same option to our families who, through no fault of their own, have been unable to make remote learning work for their children,” it added. “We’ve seen grades, attendance, and enrollment drop significantly for many of our students in recent months, and the impact has been felt most by our Black and Latinx students.”
The teachers union has stressed that they will not return until the district enacts a “responsible health metric built on CDC guidelines, committees to enforce safety standards, voluntary staff return as workers can access vaccines, and rigorous testing for students and staff to mitigate any possible outbreaks.”
“There’s no doubt we all want to return to in-person instruction. The issue is CPS’ current unpreparedness for a return to in-person instruction, and the clear and present danger that poses to the health of our families and school communities,” the union said in a statement.