We had 1,000 members attend last night’s all-member webinar. Apologies to those who couldn’t join the meeting when we unexpectedly hit a Zoom attendance limit that shouldn’t have been there. To summarize, we talked about how the City of Chicago is already hitting the public health metric that the mayor’s team at CPS agreed last year would trigger a district-wide operational pause, while we know that layered mitigation in our schools continues to fall far short in testing, tracing, vaccines and more. The mayor is still intent on ignoring that metric — in the middle of a massive surge and growing breakthrough infections.
At last night’s webinar, we asked the following poll question: “If CPS doesn’t call for a period of remote instruction following winter break, are you prepared to participate in a remote-work action as soon as we can organize a vote, possibly as soon as the first week after break?” Those in attendance polled yes at a rate of more than nine to one.
We also discussed school actions at the building level that members have already taken at schools like Carnegie — where members taught remote after Thanksgiving until CPS gave them written safety guarantees and fixed safety issues. We talked about how important it is for schools to schedule safety meetings as soon as we return — and use our safety committees as a way to force a school to pause in-person learning if mitigation is failing.
Safety committees can demand that the administration distribute high-quality N95 masks to students and staff and explicitly state what efforts admins will pursue to increase testing consent dramatically among students, since testing consent at most schools is extremely low. Safety committees can also press administrators to lay out plans to run the school should staffing levels fall in the wake of COVID illness — and press for unsafe staffing to trigger an operational pause at the school.
CPS has reached out to us about ‘discussions’ this week. We should have more information about that at our Sunday 6:00 p.m. all-member Teletown Hall by phone. Here’s a snapshot of our next steps — and watch your email for developing news:
- December 30 COVID tests at CTU HQ: We have PAUSED registration for our December 30 testing event, after more than 600 people registered.
- Before January 2: Prior to the Jan. 2 tele-town hall, we’d like each member to complete this short survey regarding your own COVID-19 testing status so we can get a sense of staff preparedness during the first week back.
- January 2: All-member Teletown Hall! Watch your phone for a call at 6:00 p.m. on Sunday, January 2, for this important all-member Teletown Hall meeting with the latest updates.
- TODAY! tell the governor to sign HB 2778. You’ll get a stand-alone reminder about this, too, but tell Governor Pritzker that school workers shouldn’t have to give up their own sick days as COVID expands in our schools and our communities.
You’ve likely seen the photos of overflowing FedEx drop boxes that began pouring in Tuesday afternoon, which was the initial deadline for CPS parents to return their at-home test kits. CPS has now announced an extension of the deadline until THURSDAY, so let your families know if you get a chance.
Finally, as we discussed last night, it’s more important than ever that every school safety committee start preparing for next week. A strong safety committee is essential for identifying safety concerns, for raising issues to your principal, and generating pressure if remedies aren’t happening quickly enough. To learn more, check out our safety committee resource kit at www.ctulocal1.org/safety.
The mayor’s team at CPS continues to insist that they’re ready for educators and students to return on January 3, despite the many signs that they’re not. We know that when we act together, we can force CPS to change course even when the mayor who runs our schools is intent on proceeding recklessly in the middle of a pandemic surge.
We shouldn’t have to convince the mayor who runs our schools to put our lives ahead of our livelihoods, but it is our solidarity and our unity that has kept us safer these last two years. We know that collectively, it is our unity that will continue to protect us all. Talk to you all on Sunday.