On Wednesday in open bargaining at La Villita Church in Little Village, our bargaining team, students, parents and community partners (download a leaflet summarizing this). We bargained again Thursday afternoon, and here is where we stand:
- CPS has yet to provide details on COVID testing protocols or to identify a vendor, despite testing being critical to identifying infection and preventing spread in our school communities.
- CPS wants to eliminate metrics that might indicate a need to trigger a 14-day quarantine or remote learning period, should the surge worsen.
- The process for providing instruction to students in quarantine will inevitably lead to simultaneous instruction, which we strongly oppose. CPS has refused our proposals for more TAs, prep time, tech, models on schedule and family notification.
- CPS is hiring miscellanous employees who, we believe, are performing duties that additional TAs and cadre substitutes should be doing.
The Delta variant is putting children too young to be vaccinated at serious risk of illness or death. According to the Chicago Department of Public Health, the majority of our students and their communities are dangerously behind in receiving both vaccine doses. For children ages 10-17, only 12 percent of Black children and 25 percent of Latinx children are vaccinated, while 40 percent of white children are vaccinated. Numbers for Chicago communities at large are better, but still poor, as barely 35 percent of Black Chicagoans and only 44 percent of Latinx city residents are fully vaccinated.
These vaccination rates are on par with communities in states like Florida, Texas and Louisiana, where COVID-19 cases are spiking. We are dealing with red state challenges in a solidly blue city, as city and school leadership fail to get lifesaving vaccination shots into arms in our most vulnerable communities.
Families concerned about safety voted with their feet last winter and spring, with more than two out of three students choosing remote learning. The Delta surge has raised concerns from the district about attendance this fall, so it’s crucial that CPS begin bargaining in earnest over our proposals, and become partners in landing a safety agreement before the start of classes on August 30.
We need a school district that is willing to take responsibility in signing off on a plan for safety and equity that works for all students and stakeholders.
Join us tomorrow in your CTU red, masked up, at the Bud Billiken Parade. We’re hosting a back-to-school picnic and school supply drive where free vaccinations will be available to all eligible Chicagoans, ages 12 and older. Keep watching your email for updates, upcoming meetings, and next steps.
Our unity and commitment to what matters for our students and school communities is a critical counterpoint to the indifference and irresponsibility of the mayor’s CPS team, and our solidarity remains our greatest strength.