Sticking points include Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s refusal to use school vaccine sites to get shots to high school students and vulnerable family members, as COVID again tops 8 percent positivity in some South Side neighborhoods.

  • 7 a.m. Monday., April 12: Press conference with CTU educators struggling with accommodations, CTU officers. Reporters, please register at the link in your email.

CHICAGO, April 11, 2021—Educators struggling with Chicago Public Schools’ chronic failure to provide reasonable accommodations to educators in need will join Chicago Teachers Union officers and senior staff at a press conference at 7 a.m. Monday, April 12, via Zoom.

The Union bargained through the weekend with CPS to try to land an agreement to safely reopen high schools. Critical sticking points include accommodations, high school schedules that minimize virus transmission, remote work — particularly since the majority of students will remain remote — and vaccines for high school students and their family members.

Sunday evening, the Union’s elected House of Delegates voted that that all high school staff would work remotely starting on Wednesday in the absence of adequate movement at the table, or a recommended agreement on resuming in-person learning in high school buildings.

Roughly three out of four CPS students have elected not to return to in-person learning as health professionals warn of another COVID surge and Chicago’s South and West Side residents continue to struggle to access vaccinations. Yet CPS has dragged on granting accommodations requests to hundreds of educators with life-threatening illnesses, acute child care issues or medically vulnerable family members. Instead, those members are being pushed to come back into buildings, even if it means putting their health on the line.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot and CPS leadership again flatly refused this weekend to consider using CPS’ four vaccination sites to facilitate getting shots to students and their families, or to facilitate getting vaccine to CPS families in cooperation with the Union. Instead, the mayor’s Chicago Department of Public Health Director Alison Arwady told the CTU at the bargaining table this weekend that she was unconcerned about bringing thousands of unvaccinated teens back into school buildings in a week.

Instead, Arwady reaffirmed CPS’ position to continue to rely on the mayor’s “Hunger Games” system of vaccine distribution, which has made it enormously difficult for residents in South and West side neighborhoods ravaged by COVID to access shots.

COVID is surging in the Midwest, with the governor of Michigan urging a two-week pause in indoor dining, in-person learning and student sports as positive cases rise among people aged 10-17. While 16-year-olds can get vaccinated outside of Chicago, Mayor Lightfoot has not allowed students aged 16 and up to get shots in the city until the same day she wants those students, vaccinated or not, to return to in-person learning in their high schools.

The Chicago Teachers Union represents more than 25,000 teachers and educational support personnel working in Chicago Public Schools, and by extension, the nearly 400,000 students and families they serve. The CTU is an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers and the Illinois Federation of Teachers and is the third-largest teachers local in the United States. For more information please visit the CTU website at www.ctulocal1.org.