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United, building power, getting stronger…

Just like Karen used to say. She would be proud of us today.

Keep calm and carry on remotelyLast night’s statement from Mayor Lightfoot and the CPS CEO was notably understated, in contrast to their performance on Wednesday night. Having cancelled classes and locked us out for a third consecutive day, they are feeling the urgency.

We saw movement from the mayor’s bargaining team today — again, more than we’ve seen in the last few months. We’re sticking to our demands of a recent negative PCR test to return, school testing sites and home kits, and a massive increase in weekly testing and surveillance testing. We’re also calling for a shift to remote when 20 percent or more of staff are in isolation or quarantine, or when a school safety committee thinks it is warranted. COVID-19 continues to hit our school communities hard, and these and other demands are what we know is needed to keep everyone in our school communities safe.

President Biden wants schools open. So do we. Schools can open. The key is keeping them open, and using federal resources from his administration to ensure our buildings are properly staffed, and our school communities have adequate testing and vaccination.

The view screencapYesterday, our day started with wonderful support from the women of The View (left) and ended with a great panel of local nurses and health care workers discussing the impact of the current COVID surge on hospitals and their work, and nearly 10,000 of you on another all-member webinar. In between, we saw students organizing, more electeds showing solidarity, more #LoriLockout and your continued attempts to log in and work remotely.

Our union is also being hailed as an inspiration to educators across the country. These words from a union educator in Massachusetts are particularly touching:

So as I watch @CTULocal1 I’m heartened and I think it’s beautiful. The way they organize, lead, fight for teachers and students in mind…They are a model for other unions for what it means to say: teachers and students’ lives are important, and we will fight for them.

Hold these words with you as you stay strong today. Continue to attempt to log in and document your work, and remember: Remote means remote.

The mayor consistently allows CPS to use scare tactics, and CPS CEOs will do her bidding, but this is an all-CTU member action. Only we should have the power to stay united or divide ourselves. So keep sending a customized version of this letter to your principal, and if you have additional questions, please consult this very useful FAQ. You should continue to take solidarity photos of yourself wearing red, ready to work remotely and post them to social media.

Keep calm and carry on remotelyWe will be canvassing at schools throughout the city today, continuing to connect with the families who entrust their children to us. Each and every day, hundreds of thousands of families send their children to our classrooms, and we need to make sure that they understand what our collective action is about. We know the mayor lies, a practice that has unfortunately rolled downhill to the CPS CEO who serves her. They continue to falsely claim that we’re engaging in an illegal strike, when we want to teach but cannot because they’ve locked us out.

We’ve been at the bargaining table for nearly two years fighting for safety. It shouldn’t be this hard. But the only way we truly stay safe is through a partnership with the mayor and her CPS team on comprehensive COVID testing, vaccinations and basic guardrails for safety. This week saw record new daily case numbers on Tuesday — 433 students and 280 adults — with 9,000 students and a record 2,300 staff members in isolation on Wednesday because they either tested positive for COVID, or were in quarantine due to close contact.

Again, the mayor’s CPS team must honor our demand to teach remotely or provide adequate mitigation — including robust testing, sufficient staffing and substitute teachers, and a school-level metric to trigger a pause on in-person instruction when COVID positivity reaches dangerous levels in our buildings. Without these mitigations, we know that CPS buildings aren’t safe, because we are the ones in the buildings.

If, as Karen taught us, we stay united, keep building our power and stand strong, we will get the agreement needed to keep our school communities safe.