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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 School Communities

The CTU continues to advocate to CPS to ensure our students’ needs are met, as well as demanding city and state leaders expand supports for children and families during the COVID-19 crisis. That’s why we’ve signed onto The Right To Recovery campaign to address the underlying injustices that have fueled our issues.

We have a #RightToRecovery from COVID-19

Resources to Aid School Communities

CTU staff have been compiling and vetting resources available for our students and their families to cope with the COVID-19 crisis. From healthcare to housing assistance, from food assistance to unemployment rights and including regional and mutual aid resources, this page is a hub of supports for our school communities.

Resource Hub Student Borrower COVID-19 Relief

CTU News on COVID-19

CTU, allies lay out common good platform to protect students, families, workers as coronavirus threat spreads
Comprehensive demands call for paid time off for workers across state; free testing for students, families in need; meals for
Read more.
Press conference today to discuss protecting workers and families in wake of COVID-19 (coronavirus) closures of schools and workplaces.
The Chicago Teachers Union today will join a coalition of unions, community groups and state, county and local elected officials
Read more.

FAQ: Answers To Common Issues During the CPS Building Closure

Most recent update May 14, 2020 to PB Days (Pay & Benefits section)
This FAQ has been continually updated from the time CPS emailed initial details to all educators (Sunday, March 15) 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 as the school closure will continue to the end of the year. Click each section heading to show its text.

Important Points and Reminders

The last day of school for the 2019-2020 school year is Monday, June 22. For those schools who voted to redistribute this flex-day, the last day is Friday, June 19. They year was originally scheduled to end two days earlier on Thursday, June 18 but two of our strike make-up days were added to the calendar. The final day of student attendance (virtual of course) is Thursday, June 18.

Schools will now be closed for the rest of the school year. 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 were initially declared “Act of God” days by ISBE and do not need to be made up. School days will become “remote learning” days in CPS starting April 13 and will count toward the school year as well. 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.

  • Download best practice information on the use of cloth face masks from the American Federation of Teachers. In addition, AFT has published guidelines on the use of face shields for members interfacing directly with individuals who potentially carry the virus.

  • Families can pick up food at CPS schools between 9am-1pm Monday through Friday. However, during the week of April 6 (Spring Break week), only about a quarter of all CPS school sites will have food pick-up and only Monday-Thursday (no food distribution on Good Friday, April 10). More details of what school sites are distributing food during Spring Break and then after can be found on the CPS meal sites web page. 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

    Personal Business Days » NEW May 14, 2020 «

    CTU attempted to get CPS to make an exception to the ‘use it or lose it’ policy on personal business days for this school year. We recognize that many members are unable to conduct personal business due to the shelter in place directive and may need to attend to these matters at a later date. CPS was not willing to make an exception and, therefore, these days remain ‘use it or lose it.’ Members can access both PB and sick days while engaged in remote learning and will need to use their PB days by the end of the school year or forfeit them.

    Bereavement Leave

    CTU members who lose or have lost loved ones will be able to use bereavement leave days at a future date outside of the normal window as we anticipate many services being delayed due to the pandemic.

    For deaths occurring since March 17, 2020 and until the end of the period of CPS remote instruction, for which a bargaining unit employee may use bereavement leave under Article 33-4, the leave days may be taken non-consecutively in no more than two installments at any time until June 26, 2020. In administering this benefit, the Board may request a record of the date of death or the associated services. The parties agree that they will revisit and strongly consider extension of the deadline based on relevant changes to the school calendar and social norms related to safety and social distancing.

    Stipends

    We have also secured with CPS (as already affirmed by ISBE) that stipended work will continue to be paid including coaching stipends, 6th high school class overtimes, STLS and interpreter stipends and more. CPS encourages these educator to make “reasonable efforts to continue associated duties for those stipends.” CTU members should do their best to conduct virtual stipends work, but you are entitled to your payments. We will continue to be in communication with CPS to ensure payments are made appropriately.

    • 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 familyservices@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.
    • Normal rules for FMLA or Short Term Disability leaves will resume April 10. Prior to that date, paid leaves and the closure days did not count against leaves. Email Annette Rizzo for more information or see our email from April 3, 2020.

    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

    • Beginning Monday, April 13, school days will transition to “remote learning” requirements. Please see the CTU Remote Learning page for more information.
    • » NEW April 27, 2020 «
      We have been in dialogue with CPS about fourth-quarter grades. CPS continues to equate grades with learning and motivation. While we know there is a relationship between these things, they are not equivalent. In a global pandemic, we should seek the maximum grace and support for our students, whose lives and circumstances vary widely. We have advocated that district grading policy be set to meet the need of the students with the most challenges. We continue to advocate that students receive passing grades and be able to opt-into letter grades. We expect CPS to issue grading guidance for fourth quarter as soon as May 1.
    • We are in ongoing conversations with CPS about PSRP, clinician and SPED, duties and responsibilities. Our member leaders, staff and officers are advocating for the most fair and appropriate outcomes as we work from home.
    • 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.
      • In addition to the original tools listed below, CPS has added Google Meet as an approved video conferencing tool for use with students, both individually and in groups. Below are guides provided by CPS to aid you in using these tools:

        Google Communication Tools Resources

      • CPS provided access to digital packets and resources for students. (NOTE: We were alerted by a member to a sexual reference that was not appropriate within PE materials. CPS says they were vetted and blamed the vendor for changing the material. We encourage you to look through the resources that CPS has provided to make sure they don’t include anything inappropriate.);
      • And consult the list of approved online digital platforms for student use;
      • Our national American Federation of Teachers has the Share My Lesson site with LOTS of resources.
      • Lots of questions remain about clinical and SPED minutes missed and other issues. 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, Meet). 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 unless you’ve secured “opt out” forms from all of your students’ parents/families who you expect to engage with on another video platform using the CPS Opt Out Form.
      • 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 Meet 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 Monday, March 16 by email, CPS said that IEP meetings can be conducted by virtual means only if parents and CPS staff agree to participate. Members of IEP teams should guard against virtual IEP meetings occurring without all the necessary participants.
      • REACH observations are not happening while we’re not in schools.

    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.

    PPC and PSC Remote Guidance

    Professional Problems Committees (PPCs in district schools, PSCs in charter schools) are crucial for establishing workplace norms collaboratively. Find guidance about remotely convening these essential bodies established by our contracts.

    Remote PPC/PSC Guide

    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.

    Quest Center PD Offerings

    Those PD offerings include:

    • Distance Learning During School Closures
    • Google Meet and Chat 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