CTU health expert Dr. Vin Gupta outlines grave dangers in CPS reopening scheme, as District digs in on forcing 10,000 more educators into unsafe buildings on 1/25 — the same day those workers become eligible for vaccine.
- 7 a.m. Friday, Jan. 22: press conference — CTU rank and file charter members, officers on progress on landing safety protocols. Reporters, please see your email for registration link or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
CHICAGO—While CPS continues to bungle even the simplest safety supply needs in public schools — and is forcing thousands of additional workers back into unsafe buildings on January 25 — CTU members in charter schools have used power built during a wave of strikes in 2018-19 to land agreements and defuse conflicts on safety measures and remote learning.
CTU members who work with three charter operators — Passages, Acero and Latino Youth — will hold a press conference at 7 a.m. Friday, January 22 via Zoom to discuss safety protocols and practices that ensure that the overwhelming demand of parents and staff to remain remote is honored. CTU members are teaching lessons that charter operators have learned without the contention, rancor, and disregard of lives that CPS is exhibiting.
On Thursday, the CTU’s newly retained medical consultant Dr. Vin Gupta laid out the deadly risks in CPS’ scheme to force more school workers back into unsafe buildings, starting with a next wave of 10,000 elementary school teachers being forced back into buildings next Monday. Gupta, who will provide guidance to the CTU in ongoing advocacy for a safe reopening agreement with CPS officials, said CPS’ plans to reopen further simply make no sense and defy current science as the pandemic continues to rage.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s insistence on reopening unsafe school buildings comes as the new Biden administration is drafting guidance built on the newest science and best practices for safe and effective in-person, remote and hybrid learning.
The mayor’s hand-picked school board and district executives have bungled both safety needs in schools and failed to provide rigorous practices and protocols to maximize safety for educators and students. Instead, while school districts like Houston have laid out detailed safety protocols for even the most challenging educational situations, CPS’ so-called ‘plan’ has failed to spell out safety protocols or clear guidance. Workers are instead being left to figure out safety protocols on their own — from unsafe classrooms and workspaces.
That approach has drawn fire from 85 percent of the City Council, state and county elected officials, clergy, community groups, parents and educators, all of whom decry systemic failures in both the district’s reopening plan and its execution.
Since the mayor forced thousands of pre-K and special education cluster teachers back into unsafe buildings on January 4, CTU members have reported positive COVID-19 cases in close to 60 schools. Safety failures range from no PPE, cleaning supplies or promised portable HEPA filters for classrooms to CPS’ incompetence in tracking students and staff who should be quarantining after exposure to COVID in schools.