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COVID-19 Information and Advocacy Center

Stay informed and take action for student and educator safety


Addressing the Pandemic and Its Impact on Our Schools

The CTU continues to work with Chicago Public Schools in making sure our schools are safe and secure, as well as demanding city and state leaders expand social services in managing the COVID-19 (coronavirus) crisis.

CTU News on COVID-19

Effectively organizing during COVID-19
CTU delegates were sent this message with the goal of ensuring that organizing continues, even as members work remotely.
Read more.
A mother shelters her children in a doorway underf a blanket as they write in workbooks.
Resources for STLS families
Students in Temporary Living Situations (students who may be homeless, "doubled up" or in a similar situation) have resources available
Read more.

Answers To Questions While CPS Schools Are Closed

(Updated 3/19) CPS emailed initial details to all educators on Sunday, March 15 at 8pm (subject line: Guidance for Educators Regarding School Closure due to COVID-19) which included links to HR details, the CPS FAQ, reminders about the Acceptable Use Policy and instructions about work expectations. CPS continues to email rank and file CTU members with updates, but here are current highlights from CPS with some CTU commentary. Click each section heading to show its text.

Important Points and Reminders

Schools will now be closed until April 21, and it’s still possible that schools could remain closed even longer. CPS announced on March 19 that it is seeking a waiver for SQRP for this school year; we’ve demanded that SQRP be scrapped. CPS has also cancelled end-of-year district-mandated assessments — NWEA, STAR and REACH Performance Tasks — as the Union demanded. School closures have been declared “Act of God” days by ISBE and do not need to be made up. Stay tuned for more information as the situation develops.

Schools are supposed to be thoroughly cleaned during this closure period. CPS said they would provide reimbursement for members who purchased additional cleaning and hygiene supplies so do try to submit your receipts or save them. CTU leadership and staff will work to get more details on how this will be handled. You can still complete the CTU COVID-19 Cleaning Survey.

While we are encouraging educators to collectively work together and talk through issues via the CTU Members Only Facebook Group, members are reminded that their posts should be thoughtful and supportive. Since members do still have work responsibilities during the day, we encourage you to be mindful of how frequently you’re posting to social media and to be thoughtful about the content of what you’re posting.

Health & Food Assistance

If you test positive for COVID-19, CPS expects an educator or employee to stay in isolation for at least 7 days from symptoms starting or 72 hours after fever is gone and symptoms improve. Also contact Kerry Frank, CPS Manager of Employee Leaves at kmfrank1@cps.edu to ensure you are put on an official paid leave.

  • If you’re having high levels of stress or anxiety, you have access to an Employee Assistance Program 24 hours a day and 7 days a week by calling 1/800-424-4776 or going online to www.magellanascend.com.

  • Members on BCBS PPO (and HSA) health insurance plan can participate in virtual doctors office visits with regular co-pays applying. For more details, go here: https://www.bcbsil.com/find-a-doctor-or-hospital/virtual-doctor-visit Members on HMO can access doctors by phone and get prescriptions filled remotely, but telemedicine services are considered out of network.

  • Families can pick up food at all CPS schools between 9am-1pm Monday through Friday. Families with questions about meals and other family services can call the CPS Command Center at 773-553-KIDS (5437) between 8am-5pm Monday through Friday, or email familyservices@cps.edu.

  • Pay & Benefits

    • CTU advocated for and CPS committed to all regularly scheduled staff (including part time, substitutes, and hourly employees) being paid during this period. CPS is entering the necessary payroll data centrally to ensure continued paychecks so members do not need to enter anything into Kronos to be paid. You do NOT need to punch in or out to be paid while you are not required to be in schools.
    • Substitute or hourly CPS employees will be paid for the average number of hours worked per week so far in 2020.
    • We know there are other impacted programs that mean loss of pay such as the cancellation of paid coaching and clubs. We recognize that having regular salaries paid was the top priority and is a positive outcome. And we will continue to advocate for remedies for other workers. We don’t love that students are missing activities or school, but this is about stopping the spread of the virus.
    • If you have hardship questions please email CPS at familyservice@cps.edu, and you can contact your CTU Field Rep if you think the answer given by CPS is not appropriate.
    • Insurance coverage will continue as normal.
    • TATs whose assignments ended recently should be offered to apply to become a cadre substitute so they can be paid as a cadre during this time.
    • FMLA or STD leaves will be paid leaves and the current closure days will not be counted against leaves.

    Accreted Members:

    If you feel you have been placed on the incorrect step and/or lane you must fill out CPS’s Salary Inquiries form. The Board made these placements based on your work history and the terms we negotiated in the contract. They have informed us that if there are any errors members must fill this form out now that the retro checks and placements have been made. You may have already filled this form out at an earlier point in the school year, but please fill it out again. The Board has been getting back to members and rectifying errors after they fill out the form.

    Salary Inquiries form

    If the issue is not resolved with the Board directly, reach out to your field rep and we can file a grievance on your behalf. We recognize that filing a grievance is not the ideal situation. However, this is the process that we must follow. 

    Educator Responsibilities

    • Educators should do the best they can to be available during typical school hours and to communicate with students, colleagues, parents, and administrators. This is not a vacation and clearly it’s not school as usual.
      • From the CPS guidance, what is required is that teachers should provide students >enrichment activities> which can include assignments. CPS received updated guidance grading from ISBE on Wednesday, March 18th. ISBE is now saying that teacher CAN choose to grade assignments only if they HELP improve a student’s academic standing. Because the current closure days are not instructional days according to ISBE and because students are facing mental, physical and technology challenges during the closure, >if grading assignments will negatively impact a student’s grade, then the grades should NOT be updated during the closure period. Assignments can be turned in during the closure or after. Have lesson plans ready for when schools reopen.
      • The above guidance is as specific as the CPS district-wide directive is. CTU Delegates, CAT members, and PPC members should courteously email and ask principals who try to mandate overly specific requirements what they plan to do if an educator cannot comply because they are also caring for family members or dealing with other urgent needs. While we may be working in our own homes, our ability to make sure that expectations are reasonable still takes collective work. Delegates and members should use their Contract Action Team phone trees to communicate collectively to develop shared responses to school-wide concerns. Delegates, CAT members and PPC members should make efforts to address issues at the local school level with administration first. If an urgent problem is not resolved appropriately, members should then contact their CTU Field Representative, Organizer, or CTU leadership for additional assistance.
      • Lots of questions remain about clinical and SPED minutes missed and other issues. CTU is advocating, for example, for the cancellation of standardized testing and no harm to student grade level promotion as a result of schools being closed. We are aware of student trips that were necessarily cancelled and helped advocate that CPS demand refunds from private tour companies and CPS says it will. We will collectively work through these issues and questions in the coming days.
    • Educators should communicate with students following the the CPS Acceptable Use Policy. So you can communicate via students’ CPS email accounts and CPS approved Group Messaging services (Google Chat, Classroom). CPS is allowing group texts and social media only with parent written permission and only for instructional or program related communication. We would advise being cautious with the texting and social media options or only doing this with parents included on the communication. CPS is only allowing communication via their approved vendors. Do not use video services that CPS has not approved (and therefore cannot monitor) to communicate with students.
    • Educators should check and respond to their CPS email regularly to stay in touch with colleagues and administrators. Educators should continue parent communication via typical update methods.
    • Google Hangouts is available for educator collaboration of administrator organized meetings or conferences. If your administrator schedules a video conference at a particular time, do your best to be available, but communicate with your admin if you cannot.
    • On Sunday, March 15th by email, CPS said that IEP meetings should be cancelled during the closure, but IEPs can continue to be reviewed anticipating resumption of school and meetings. On Monday, March 16th by email, CPS then said that IEP meetings can be conducted by telephone only if parents and CPS staff agree to participate. Members of IEP teams should guard against telephone IEP meetings occurring without all the necessary participants.
    • Obviously REACH observations are not happening while we’re not in schools. There are contingency plans to protect tenured and untenured educators from negative outcomes as a result of not having all 3 required REACH observations during their current plan. You can find more details here:

    Who is still in CPS schools and still working?

    • At least one administrator per school, lunchroom managers, nutrition workers, custodians and engineers, security staff (all are being paid extra during this time to report to work).
    • Most Central Office employees, though not all, are working remotely. CPS is also paying Payroll and Accounting staff extra to report to work.

    CTU Activities

    • For updated information on how CTU is advocating on behalf of members, students, families and our communities, visit: https://www.ctulocal1.org/covid19/
    • CTU staff and leadership are primarily working remotely, so feel free to contact them by email or leave them a message so they can get back to you by calling the CTU main number 312/329-9100. You can email your CTU Field Rep or Organizer here: https://www.ctulocal1.org/reps/
    • CTU meetings for members are not being held at the CTU Center facility until further notice, including CTU Committees. CTU Committee chairs should email their staff liaison with any questions or if they want to schedule an urgent conference call during the closure.
    • The Spring Delegate and School Leaders Conference has been cancelled for now and staff are preparing digital resources to be shared soon.
    • CTUF Quest professional development courses that are online are continuing and more information can be found here: https://ctuf.catalog.instructure.com If you have questions about specific courses, contact the Quest PD Director WalterTaylor@ctuf.org. For questions about the CTUF Quest National Board Certification program contact NTL Director LynnCherkasky-Davis@ctuf.org.

    Teaching Resources

    Quest Center PD

    CTUF Quest Center continues to support members through the re-licensure process all professional development (PD) needs by continuing to provide high-level, online PD offerings that are either Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) PD Hour bearing, CPS Lane Placement Credit bearing, or both. In addition, they offer some short but impactful PD offerings that can be attended and completed in about an hour online.

    Those PD offerings include:

    • Distance Learning During School Closures
    • Google Hangouts For Online Communication
    • Scratch: Anyone Can Code Online
    • Exploring the World Without Leaving Your Chair: Google Maps, Earth, Arts & Culture
    • How Can I Read If I Can’t Go To The Library? E-books To The Rescue!
    • Google Forms: Assessment From Afar

    Online PD Offerings