Educators eager to return to school communities — but flag ongoing concerns about safety and stability, with only about 25% of new safety agreement completed as delta variant drives Chicago caseload to nearly 500 cases/day.
- 7:00 a.m. Monday, August 23: Press Conference on first day back at school for teachers, with bargaining update from CTU rank and file, officers. Fulton Elementary, 5300 S Hermitage Ave, Chicago.
CHICAGO — For months, the CTU has been bargaining to push the mayor’s bargaining team to step up efforts to keep returning students and their families safe as the deadly delta variant spreads. While only about a quarter of the agreement landed last spring has been settled for this fall, CPS has broadly agreed to continue school-based safety committees — a linchpin in keeping school communities safer last year. Yet Mayor Lightfoot’s CPS team has continued to drag on fleshing out a full and robust agreement, at the same time that CPS has rejected making equity investments in schools long starved of resources, even though the City and CPS combined have $4 billion on hand in federal COVID relief funds to put students on the path to real recovery.
Rank and file educators and CTU officers will talk about the status of bargaining and implementing safety guardrails and equity investments in school communities at a press conference at 7:00 a.m. on Monday, August 23, at Fulton Elementary, 5300 S. Hermitage Ave.
On Sunday, dozens of aldermen and state legislators wrote to Lightfoot urging her to land a comprehensive safety agreement for students and families. Elected officials have proposed that the mayor eliminate wildly inefficient ‘simultaneous’ learning; preserve last spring’s guidelines for quarantine, contact tracing and social distancing protocols, especially for unvaccinated students; and provide the resources and trauma supports that students desperately need.
COVID rates are again spiking to almost 500 cases/day in Chicago, and remain dangerously high in some neighborhoods, with children increasingly being sickened by COVID. At the same time, the mayor’s CPS team has failed to anchor vaccine programs in schools in South and West Side neighborhoods as a way to get jabs into the arms of the vulnerable. And Mayor Lightfoot’s bargaining team has yet to agree to increase staffing and supports in schools that have been starved of resources for years, yet are seeing little to no new investment to support students’ and families’ right to recovery.
Last spring, the CTU won the creation of school safety committees to provide a place for virtually every school stakeholder, from teachers and school clerks to parents and janitors, to ensure that safety is being practiced inside the building. These committees were enormously helpful last winter and spring because they were able to bring safety concerns and challenges to a table quickly to be rectified, from ventilation problems in classrooms to lack of mask wearing in shared spaces. Continuing these committees lays the groundwork to continue to hammer out an MOU as we reopen schools, because there’s a place in every single school building to triage concerns and challenges.
The CTU is calling on the mayor’s CPS team work with the union to support a safe and stable school year for children, but want a real partnership to land a full and robust agreement, just as the Union has been able to land agreements with a growing number of charter operators.