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Dear CTU family:

We hope you have had a restful and restorative summer break.

Throughout the summer, officers and staff have met with CPS on how to extend our MOU (Memoranda of Understanding) regarding COVID protections. As people may have learned, the CDC eased its recommended COVID guidelines today, even though epidemiologists anticipate a Fall surge, and most elementary and pre-k students are unvaccinated.

We are and have been bargaining with the Board of Education on a safety agreement that reflects many of the things we have fought for over the last two years. CPS has already adopted many of the provisions in our previous MOUs regarding vaccination outreach, testing availability, quarantine procedures, maintenance of our safety committees, etc.

That progress is a testament to our ability to ensure that safety from COVID surges remains front and center as part of our advocacy and efforts. It’s also a similar approach we have used to fight for and win placements of laid-off members in vacant positions this summer and to stop the retaliatory terminations of two amazing environmental justice educators at George Washington High School.

Additionally, we’ve just won agreement from CPS to engage in an expedited process to address the backlog of grievances, especially those that can be more easily resolved, such as payroll, supply money, substitute/TAT pay, step/lane placement or advancement, missed preps, Covid sick days, denied personal business or sick days, and grandfathered sick-day payouts.

As our membership has repeatedly asserted, some key ingredients that any MOU with CPS must include:

  1. A continuation of weekly PCR testing for students and staff.
  2. Maintenance and extension of contact tracing, vaccination and testing captains and quarantine for people who are COVID positive and their close contacts.
  3. Continued enhanced pay and benefits for cadre substitutes and day-to-day substitutes.
  4. Continued provision of N95, surgical masks, ventilation and filters.
  5. Maintenance of building-level Safety Committees and their oversight powers.
  6. Regular weekly meetings of the District Wide Safety Committee with enhanced oversight to address issues in schools.
  7. The continuation of CPS vaccination events for boosters and unvaccinated students.

There are signs that CPS intends to continue many of these provisions, but without sufficient guarantees that they will reflect either evolving public health conditions in our schools or the bargaining process with the CTU. CTU leadership will present the latest progress and obstacles at a member-wide zoom webinar we’ll schedule once we’ve got more to report. Once we have a clear proposal from CPS that addresses our major concerns, we will share it and give membership an opportunity to vote it up or down, as we have during the previous MOU processes.

As you return to work next week for PD and preparation, please continue to inform CTU of any issues that your school’s safety committee is struggling to resolve by notifying the district-wide safety committee through our Incident Form. To learn more, check out the CTU COVID safety page at ctulocal1.org/rights/concerns/safety-committees

In addition, we’re worried about the lack of information from CPS and the city about mitigations around the monkeypox virus, also known as MPV. Protect yourself and your school communities. Please share the following AFT information about the disease with your staff and students so people can protect themselves.

We’ll also provide any information on MVP policies and procedures from CPS as they become available.

We’re thrilled to be getting back to our students, and we know that our unity is our most powerful strength in bringing our students a more joyful school day – and bringing our neighborhoods the schools our students deserve.

In solidarity,

Stacy Davis Gates, President
Jackson Potter, Vice President
Christel Williams, Recording Secretary
Maria Moreno, Financial Secretary