Frontline workers cite ongoing safety concerns in school buildings as Mayor moves to reopen city while double digit COVID rates persist in hard-hit South and West Side neighborhoods.
- 6:00 a.m., Wed., Sept. 30: Press availability, PPE distribution
Collins High School, 1313 S. Sacramento (parking on Albany). Event will also be livestreamed on CTU Facebook page.
CHICAGO—A month after being forced back into school buildings, school clerks, tech coordinators and other frontline school workers are still citing serious safety issues in buildings. Yet CPS continues to refuse to bargain with the CTU on safety concerns, even as Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced on Monday that the City would move to wider reopening of businesses.
Workers are taking matters into their own hands by distributing PPE to clerks and other school employees being directed to work in person, starting at 6:00 a.m. Wednesday, September 30 at Collins High School, located at 1313 S. Sacramento. Frontline workers will hold a press availability at 6:00 a.m. to talk about safety concerns in CPS school buildings, where COVID-19 cases tripled from May through early September, even as very limited numbers of workers were staffing those buildings.
CPS has refused to work collaboratively with the CTU to remedy its substandard safety policies, in defiance of guidance from the Illinois State Board of Education that school districts should bargain to consensus on the terms of working and learning during the pandemic. The CTU is demanding that CPS and the Mayor put resources and protocols in place to protect educators and students before CPS rushes to restart in-person education.
CPS forced school clerks, technology coordinators and others back into schools starting on August 26—even though ISBE has said that work that can be done remotely SHOULD be done remotely. While clerks and others worked remotely effectively for months, since they returned to buildings they’ve filed hundreds of safety concerns with the Union, ranging from CPS failure to provide sufficient masks and non-enforcement of mask-wearing and social distancing to dirty workplaces that are not being disinfected or lack adequate—or any—ventilation.
Poor facilities conditions are a grave concern, particularly as health officials point to the virus’ ability to infect people via airborne transmission. 60% of CPS schools have no central HVAC system, and less than 5% of schools have any air purification system installed. Half of schools have nonfunctional critical components of their air circulation systems, while only 9% of CPS schools have air filtration systems that meet public health recommendations for COVID-19 safety.
Wednesday is a national day of action to demand safe schools, with actions across the country in more than a dozen cities. The CTU and allies across the country are demanding the resources that school communities need to keep children, families and staff safe when school buildings open again.