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At bargaining, CPS suggests cancer could more compelling than hypertension in any requests — then denies accommodation to member caring for elderly parent being treated for cancer.  

  • 7:00 a.m. TODAY, Fri., Jan. 28: press conference — CTU rank and file members denied right to continue to teach safely remotely to protect lives of vulnerable family members. Via Zoom. Reporters, please see zoom link in your email to register.
  • Save the date — Saturday, January 30, 10:00 a.m.: solidarity actions. Details TBA.

CHICAGO—COVID-19 can sicken or kill anyone, but those with underlying conditions remain at greater risk. Nearly 90% of persons hospitalized for COVID-19 have an underlying medical condition, most commonly conditions like hypertension (59%), metabolic disease (48%), and cardiovascular disease (34%), according to the CDC. Cancer can triple a person’s risk for illness or death from COVID.

But CPS has routinely denied educators’ requests for health accommodations to continue working and teaching remotely to protect vulnerable family members. At bargaining, CPS recently suggested cancer could more compelling than hypertension in any requests — then days later denied another veteran teacher an accommodation even as that member cares for an elderly parent being treated for cancer.

Rank and file educators will join CTU officers TODAY, Friday, January 29 at 7:00 a.m. via Zoom to speak out about CPS’ unfair, disorganized and dangerous refusal to grant telework requests to educators whose family members are at higher risk of death and disease from COVID.

CPS has denied telework accommodations requests for 85% of educators who made them based upon having a member of their household who is in a COVID-19 high risk category as defined by the CDC.   Being in one of those high-risk categories means that if you contract COVID-19, you are significantly more likely to get seriously ill, need to be hospitalized, or die.  Yet CPS is telling employees in this situation they have to choose between working in-person and bringing back a virus that may kill their family member, foregoing their paycheck, or telling their medically fragile family member they have to move out of their home.

Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot continues to insist on reopening all elementary school classrooms on February 1, even as CPS has struggled to implement even the most basic safety protocols at many schools. Only 19 percent of eligible pre-K and special education cluster students returned to classrooms on January 11. The vast majority of the District’s overwhelmingly Black and Brown families have instead stuck with remote learning, as COVID continues to ravage their neighborhoods.

COVID cases have surfaced in dozens of schools since CPS started forcing the latest wave of educators back into buildings on January 4. Yet CPS has rejected adopting the CDC’s health metrics to determine if schools should be open or remain remote. The District has refused to allow educators to be vaccinated before they’re pushed back into classrooms. And CPS has rejected or ignored thousands of requests from educators for health accommodations for themselves or household members with hypertension, heart disease and other health conditions that put them at higher risk of COVID sickness and death.

CTU rank and file members are teaching remotely as the CTU attempts to land an enforceable agreement on safely returning to schools. Educators have voted overwhelmingly to remain remote until an agreement is landed.

CPS charter operators that include Passages, Epic, Latino Youth and Acero — one of CPS’ largest charter networks — have rejected reopening, choosing instead to remain remote until at least April, when vaccines are more available and the pandemic is under better control.

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.