Union Siblings:

Thank you for your commitment to our city and school communities. Our solidarity and dedication have provided our school communities with the AC units now working overtime in our schools.

Thanks to our righteous fight in 2012, our push to ensure that all CPS classrooms would be air-conditioned has almost come to fruition. And, implementation could have been better, and this week proves that. Building crisis systems in the middle of a climate catastrophe is not ideal — and this is the legacy of the Emmauel-Lightfoot Era!

Since the beginning of this week, CTU, SEIU 73, city leadership and CPS have been meeting daily and nightly through the District Joint Safety Committee to address the current Extreme Heat Crisis impacting our city. During our meetings, we are triaging the reported issues and responding in real time. As part of our collaborative effort, CPS has responded and kept us abreast of solutions they’re implementing.

Temporary AC units have been delivered to more than a dozen schools in communities from Mt. Greenwood to Hyde Park and the Northwest side. Many of these units were delivered and installed overnight. Due to extreme heat a number of our schools faced power outages, in those cases Commonwealth Edison deployed teams right away to restart the power. Cooling trucks were stationed at some schools to ensure safety for our students. CPS has been working to get additional air-conditioned buses, especially to help our most vulnerable special needs students get to and from school.

As the first week of school and this Extreme Heat Watch comes to an end, it is clear that our work to create more green schools and the development of a 10-year facilities master plan that will center our students, their families and sound environmental values is both necessary.

While this current Extreme Heat Watch is coming to an end, work must still be done to keep our school safe and thriving. Thus, we urge all members to work through their PPC (or charter PSC) with principals to resolve issues at the school site. Don’t be afraid to call an emergency meeting if needed. Reconstitute your School Safety Committee to deal with the inevitable issues that increasing climate instability will cause.

Please contact your field representative if you have questions about engaging in the fight forward for environmentally sound schools.