Lockout has disrupted education for thousands of Black and Brown students, as educators continue to document safety failures and COVID cases at their schools.
- 7A TODAY, Wednesday, 1/13: Press conference/teach-out, with locked out teachers, in front of CPS board of education president Miguel del Valle, 2218 N. Lamon, Chicago.
- 8A – 11A, same location: Educators still allowed to work remotely will join and teach students from outside del Valle’s house.
CHICAGO—CPS has locked out hundreds of teachers who’ve balked at being forced to teach students remotely from unsafe school buildings instead of continuing to educate their students remotely — and safely — from their homes. CPS is also docking educators’ pay and threatening to fire them.
Those CPS lock-outs have denied thousands of Black and Brown schoolchildren access to their teachers in an appalling CPS exercise in inequity and abuse of power, even as word of more COVID cases in schools surfaced Tuesday.
Locked out educators and their fellow CTU teachers who CPS has yet to force into buildings are fighting back. They’ll come together at a 7:00 a.m. press conference outside of the home of Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s hand-picked board of education president Miguel del Valle, located at 2218 N. Lamon in the Northwest Side Belmont Cragin community. After the press conference, on-the-clock educators will teach their regular classes outside del Valle’s house, as the locked out workers livestream lessons that their students can access on the internet.
Some parents are taking action, too, with parents of students in one pre-K class at McCormick planning to ‘strike’ with their students on Tuesday to object to CPS’ lock-out of their teacher. Students will log in, then turn off their mics and cameras in protest for the school day.
Tuesday brought more deeply troubling news of conditions in public schools, as well as word that CPS management incompetence also led to the lock-out of workers who are not scheduled to return to buildings until January 25. CPS also threatened to lock out least one worker currently attempting to recover from COVID.
In the last 48 hours, rank and file educators have reported COVID cases, quarantines and sick members at schools that include Corkery, Hanson Park, Beethoven, McCutcheon, Cleveland, and Beard. The COVID cases at Beard Elementary, which provides both Pre-k and special needs programs for children with autism and acute medical needs, are especially troubling, with at least 10 workers in COVID quarantine. Some of the district’s most medically vulnerable students began returning to classrooms Monday at Beard.
More than 800 COVID cases at over 350 schools have now been reported since the pandemic began, with most of those COVID cases surfacing after CPS began forcing some workers back into buildings beginning on August 25. Those schools have been running on skeleton crews with no students onsite for months.
In the midst of a COVID outbreak that surfaced last Friday, four days after CPS began forcing pre-K and special education cluster teachers back into buildings, educators at McCutcheon Elementary report that the school is in chaos. Most teachers who had reported to work last week are now in quarantine, leaving just one educator in the building. CPS waited until Sunday evening to notify educators, and didn’t tell parents about the outbreak until yesterday afternoon.
On Tuesday at Volta Elementary, CPS locked out eight teachers, including a beloved Pre-k teacher assistant at who lives with her 85-year old mother, a chemo patient who the TA is desperate to protect from COVID. A parent described the aide as energetic, loving, caring, and Bilingual — exactly the kind of person CPS should be celebrating. “Our school is 87 percent low-income and 70 percent English Learners,” said the parent. “Why is CPS locking out our remote students from access to their teachers?” Only three students were attending in-person at the school.
In a Pre-k class at Whittier Elementary that has zero students who are attending in-person, CPS locked out a teacher who exercised her right to refuse an unsafe workplace and also blocked all online resources for students. The teacher assistant, who is NOT a licensed educator, was left scrambling to fill in the gaps.
At Uplift High School, CPS locked out a teacher from a classroom of medically fragile, wheelchair-bound remote learners, many of whom can’t speak or move. A substitute never showed up — CPS simply abandoned them.
All of the music and drama teachers at Talcott Fine Arts and Museum Academy are locked out of their Google classrooms even though nearly all their students are still learning remotely. “All this does is show that this is about punishing teachers who are concerned for their safety at the expense of the kids they should be teaching,” says one of the parents.
The CTU and the mayor’s CPS bargaining team continue to meet, as the Union seeks to press CPS to bargain to agreement on a safe path to reopening schools.