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Lightfoot acknowledges spike in positive COVID cases among young Chicagoans, rejects vaccine for students 16 and older, yet plans to reopen high schools in two weeks.

  • 7:30 a.m. Wednesday, April 7: Virtual press conference with high school teachers, community allies, CTU officers. Reporters, please register via the link in your email.

CHICAGO—As the CTU attempts to bargain an agreement with the mayor’s hand-picked board of education to safely reopen high schools, those schools’ teachers are raising serious safety concerns about CPS’ current plan to reopen high schools.

CTU high school educators will join CTU officers and grassroots activists to talk about challenges at the bargaining table at a virtual press conference at 7:30 a.m. on Wednesday, April 7 via Zoom.

Those concerns come as COVID cases are again going up in Chicago and across the nation. Yet Mayor Lightfoot has held off on vaccinating residents aged 16 and up, even as the state has opened up vaccinations for young people, the age group currently most impacting COVID spread and infection. At the same time, national health experts are raising concerns about the push to reopen schools, bars and other businesses as new variants drive a spike in cases.

The Union is calling on CPS to modify schedules for high schools, which don’t use pods, to lessen unnecessary contact and limit the number of people in buildings to minimize COVID spread. The Union has urged that Wednesdays remain remote to provide educators with additional prep time, which is in desperately short supply. Educators who are medically vulnerable or have at-risk family members also seeking ongoing access to remote work or unpaid leaves.

The Union is also calling on CPS to vaccinate high school students and their vulnerable family members, a critical need both as the virus surges locally and in terms of protecting school communities if CPS is planning to eventually reopen schools more widely in the fall.

The CTU has offered to work with CPS to help educate and encourage vaccination, but CPS has yet to commit to partner with the CTU in the effort. CPS has also rejected efforts to improve the remote learning experience for students, most of whom continue to learn remotely.

The Union has embraced community-driven TLC demands that call on CPS to at last listen to students, families and their educators, and invest in robust social-emotional supports, high-speed broadband and adequate devices for remote learning students, and a commitment to fund acute equity needs with more than $1.8 billion in federal COVID supports the District is in line to receive.

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.