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Updated February 12, 2021

Members have posed a number of questions about the Framwork for Resumption of In-Person Instruction. This FAQ is an effort to answer some of the most common questions and points of confusion. Check back often; we are adding content all the time! You can also find more information about the framework in the bargaining chart, which breaks down issues brought to the table and where they landed in this framework. See the entire framework document with side letter on locked out members and discipline. This powerpoint presentation also breaks down what’s in the agreement, along with a strategic analysis from the bargaining team.

What happens to our locked out members under this framework?

  • All members who are locked out will be reinstated.
  • All discipline for working remotely without permission and being absent without leave (“AWOL”) is dismissed.
  • 59 cases where members are under investigation for discipline related to communications to parents (but where formal discipline has not yet been issued) will be dropped.
  • The Union gives up no rights to continue fighting against other disciplinary actions or for compensation owed to members through grievances, the courts or other means.

The Board did not agree to drop 55 cases where formal disciplinary notices related to parent communications have already been received by members. These are already being fought through the disciplinary, grievance and arbitration processes, and additional legal action will be taken as warranted. Some have already been reduced and our legal team believes we are well positioned to challenge these cases — as, apparently, does the opposition.

The Board did not agree to pay all locked out members for the days during which they were locked out. The Union will continue to take action to force the Board to pay these members owed wages. In the interim, the hardship fund that was established for this campaign will distribute funds to the impacted members to help make them whole. For those experiencing financial hardship right now, the Union has set up two ways to tap into funds.

  • Apply for hardship relief from the GoFundMe campaign that the Union set up in the fall. The application form is available at ctulocal1.org/hardship. Educators and supporters from across the U.S. are donating to this fund in solidarity with the trail-blazing work being done by people like us here in Chicago!
  • CTU members locked out for five or more days with a missed or reduced paycheck qualify for an interest-free loan from the AFT up to $300 per week. Use the AFT Loan Application to submit to UCU. You can get more information with this (FAQ).

My principal says that I cannot work remotely even if I have no in-person students. Is this true?

The new Memorandum of Agreement with CPS includes numerous strategies that principals must reasonably use – including allowing teachers, TAs and other classroom staff with no in-person students to continue to work remotely to minimize the number of in-person staff needed at your school. By minimizing the number of staff working in-person, we can both make the school safer for everyone and allow additional telework accommodations to be granted to members concerned about exposing high-risk individuals in their household to COVID-19.

CPS has now directed principals that teachers and staff no in-person students may only be allowed to work remotely if they have applied for and been denied a remote work accommodation based on a household member at high-risk for COVID-19. This is not accurate and contradicts the bargaining history and plain language of the agreement. CTU leadership has contacted CPS officials about this directive and are demanding that CPS immediately reverse course. Members should also know, however, that having no students on your roster does not guarantee you the right to work remotely.

Principal are supposed to consider several factors in determining who can continue remotely. Under the agreement, in most situations where an educator has no in-person students, the reasonable course for the principal to take is to allow continued remote work. There are other such situations where a principal may have good reason to ask a teacher or staff member to work in-person despite all their students staying remote. For instance, if a relatively young Pre-K teacher without any underlying health conditions has no students on her roster, but the other pre-K teacher has a medically fragile spouse and in-person students, it would likely be reasonable for the principal to ask the first teacher to report in-person to allow an additional telework accommodation for the other member.

It is absolutely not reasonable, though, for CPS central office to tell principals that they are not permitted to allow remote work for educators who haven’t requested a household member accommodation. We will take swift action to enforce this language. If CPS attempts to maintain this position, please challenge your administration with the help of your Delegate and PPC, by sharing the language found in Section 8(b) of the agreement (included below). If your principal will not abide by the agreement, members with no in-person students who do not feel comfortable coming into school buildings can do as follows:

  • The MOA allows any member for any reason to take an unpaid, job-protected leave with full benefits.
  • Members who were denied telework despite having no in-person students and without any other good reason for the denial can take that leave, while noting in writing that they are reserving rights to challenge the telework denial;
  • Then file a grievance seeking to reverse the denial and recoup lost wages for any time on unpaid leave following the telework denial.

Please contact your CTU Delegate, Field Representative, or Organizer for additional support.

Section 8(b) of our MOA, provides, in relevant part as follows:

“Principals will reasonably utilize the following strategies to minimize the level of in-person staffing in affected schools:

  • Teachers and classroom staff with no assigned in-person students on their roster or caseload may work remotely.
  • Reassigning students to different homerooms or sections of the same subject or grade levels, including combining classes
  • Swapping class assignments among appropriately-qualified, licensed teachers or paraprofessionals
  • Pairing in-person teachers and staff with teleworking teachers and staff, respectively, in order to create student rosters for employees which are all in-person or all remote.
  • Creating multi-grade classes spanning no more than two grade levels

Where it is operationally feasible, schools shall endeavor to implement schedules in which in-person teachers are predominantly focused on providing in-person instruction whereas other teachers are predominantly focused on providing remote instruction. “

What sort of financial assistance is available for people experiencing hardship right now?

For those who are experiencing financial hardship right now, the Union has set up two ways to tap into funds.

  • Apply for hardship relief from the GoFundMe campaign that the Union set up in the fall. The application form is available at ctulocal1.org/hardship. Educators and supporters from across the U.S. are donating to this fund in solidarity with the trail-blazing work being done by people like us here in Chicago!
  • CTU members locked out for five or more days with a missed or reduced paycheck qualify for an interest-free loan from the AFT up to $300 per week. Apply for an AFT loan using this form (FAQ).

Would this framework do anything to improve remote learning?

CPS is extremely dug-in on their position that students need to be back in-person and unwilling to accept proposals for improvements to remote instruction, despite 80% of families choosing to stay remote. This framework agreement won language that CPS shall provide families with additional technology and support for remote learning, including, but not limited to, headphones, devices and vision screening. The fight to improve remote learning will need to continue in our schools, through PPCs, and CTU will continue to organize with parents and community organizations who are pushing demands to improve remote learning for their students. https://chicago.suntimes.com/2021/2/5/22268545/remote-learning-chicago-public-schools-cps-families-organizers-plan-improve-tlc

If I take an unpaid leave, does that mean I have to stay out for the entire 3rd Quarter? Could I return sooner?

You do not have to stay on the unpaid job-protected leave for the entire 3rd quarter. You can return as soon as you are willing to report in-person. Additionally, if you take a job-protected leave,, you may be offered an opportunity to teach remotely if there is a need for remote instruction at your school. You will not be required to return to in-person instruction before you have had an opportunity to be fully vaccinated.

How does the framework impact PSRPs?

Vaccine: School clerks and technology coordinators never should have been forced into buildings without protections in place. Our campaign forced the Board to offer vaccination to all clerks and clerk assistants. The Framework also prioritizes 1,000 Pre-K and Special Education Cluster members — many of whom are PSRP’s — along with tech cos and others directed to work in person for vaccine as early as Wednesday 2/10. In addition, many PSRP’s live or work in communities of the city that are prioritized for additional priority vaccines.

PSRP’s benefit from all the safety protocols which are written to protect ALL MEMBERS OF THE BARGAINING UNIT, not just teachers. For example,

  • Sneeze Guards. School Clerks, School Clerk Assistants, and all CTU bargaining unit employees who interact with building visitors shall have sneeze guards at their workspace and locations where they regularly interact with building visitors.
  • Workspace. Bargaining unit members, including clinicians and nurses, shall work from workspaces that meet therapeutic, instructional, and safety needs.
  • The Board has installed and will maintain HEPA Air Purifiers in all school offices and other staff spaces that lack mechanical ventilation, and in all classrooms in use with students present.

The Framework protects against PSRP’s being forced to perform health screenings. “With the exception of nurses, no CTU bargaining unit member shall be required to administer health screenings, temperature checks, or COVID-19 tests.”

PSRP’s (as well as all members) will be kept safer by regular testing, a health metric which will close classrooms (pods), schools, or even the whole district.

How does this framework impact clinicians?

All clinicians have been offered at least a first dose of vaccine. The framework guarantees a second dose to everyone who receives a first dose.

Why do clinicians with no in-person students have to report?

This is currently under discussion with the BOARD and will likely be taken up in the Clinicians Joint Committee. The BOARD has expressed willingness to revisit clinicians driving to schools at which they have no in-person caseload. Some additional components of the framework relevant to clinicians are below:

  • Extra PPE: Related Service Providers are specifically singled out to have access to enhanced PPE (see section 1e. in the framework) depending on job classification.
  • Workspaces. The framework specifically mentions clinician workspaces: “Bargaining unit members, including clinicians and nurses, shall work from workspaces that meet therapeutic, instructional, and safety needs.”
  • Ventilation standards also apply to workspaces as well as classrooms.
  • Clinicians (as well as all members) will be kept safer by regular testing, a health metric which will close classrooms, schools, or even the whole district.

Do clinicians get to work remotely if they have no in-person students on their caseload?

Getting to stay remote is not guaranteed for clinicians. It doesn’t make much sense, but the Board was very dug in on this. But if you don’t have in-person students, it’s not prohibited to stay remote if you can work it out with admin. Use your PPCs, the school safety committees and other tools to push them. The strategies in section 8(b) that principals are supposed to use to minimize the number of staff working in-person applies for clinicians and all bargaining unit members.

My building did not have sufficient cleaning staff BEFORE the pandemic. How can I have confidence in it NOW?

The Framework will give us tools to address problems with cleaning and sanitation that we have never had before. Number 6, for example, incorporates CPS’ Cleaning and Disinfecting Guide, which is a 9 page document that describes how classrooms are supposed to be cleaned. The Cleaning Guidance [at this link] reads, on page 3:

Cleaning Tasks by Areas — Classrooms. Routine Cleaning: Four times a week (Day and Evening)

  • Clean and disinfect all high touch surfaces
  • Empty trash and spot clean trash containers
  • Sweep and Mop floor
  • Restock
  • Inspect

Full Cleaning: Once a week (Evening)

  • Clean and disinfect all high touch surfaces
  • Empty trash
  • Clean and disinfect trash containers
  • Sweep, mop and disinfect floors
  • Restock
  • Inspect

The document also has detailed sections on common areas, and bathrooms. The document includes:

  • Disinfect and clean all restrooms and associated dispensers such as toilet paper, paper towel, soap, menstrual hygiene dispensers and receptacles.
  • Ensure all soap dispensers are clean, disinfected, and full with soap, toilet paper, paper towels.

It will NOT be a magic bullet–we will have to plan on organizing, enforcing our rights, and forcing CPS to do the right thing.

Critically, Safety Protocols Are Spelled Out. The Framework describes NINE specific areas of safety concern:

  1. Health Screenings
  2. Hand sanitizer
  3. Disinfecting wipes
  4. Sneeze guards
  5. Masks/Face Coverings/Other PPE
  6. Cleaning and Disinfecting
  7. Social Distancing
  8. Workspace rules (non-classroom spaces such as offices)
  9. Ventilation

How Are These Safety Protocols Enforced?

Every school will create a Safety Committee. The Committee shall consist of the principal, building engineer (or building manager if you do not have an engineer), and up to 4 members of the CTU, chosen by the union. This safety committee has real teeth, including the ability to close down a classroom or potentially an entire building if safety standards are not being met. Both building- and district-level safety committees are empowered to enforce health and safety protocols. Violations must be remedied as soon as possible, preferably within 24 hours.