We meet daily with Chicago Public Schools on safety enforcement under the terms of the Jan. 12, 2022, Safety Agreement. Despite the district’s foot-dragging, persistence is paying off, as you’ll see in the Agreement’s implementation chart and update below.

Safety Agreement enforcement updates

It’s been two weeks since the ink dried on our memorandum of agreement, and 10 days since CPS’ commitment to begin contact tracing training and engagement by January 18 came and went. So as usual, we’re taking matters into our own hands and soon filing a grievance on ongoing data deficiencies. Member safety committees are also enforcing the agreement school by school, including in-person pauses when positive cases of COVID-19 hit the Agreement’s metrics.

In comments at the Board of Education meeting this week, I addressed the district’s shortcomings in enforcement, calling on CPS to transparently report COVID-19 data to building safety committees as required by the Agreement, and begin training paid school-based workers in contact tracing. My remarks are at 1:11:35 here.

While it’s unsurprising that CPS has yet to get its safety act together, take heart from the knowledge that parents support our efforts to push for safety and transparency. According to a new national survey by Hart Research Associates and Lake Research Partners, more than 80 percent of parents in cities like Chicago support educators’ efforts to keep students and staff safe. And as I said above, your persistence is paying off.

New quarantine data tool

The CTU Communications and Education Policy Departments have created a data API, or application programming interface, that describes your school’s daily COVID-19 quarantine rate based on CPS’ own data. This is a powerful tool for schools seeing COVID-19 spread at rates too high to learn safely in person.

Safety committees should use this data tool to advocate for timely information, to dialogue about being ready to potentially flip to remote and to identify additional safety needs that could range from better contact tracing to critical ventilation repairs. Reach out to your organizer or field rep for guidance and support.

Safety committee members should also request daily attendance data for teachers and students, as well as quarantine/isolation data. If your principal fails to provide the requested information, safety committee members can file a grievance.

Expanding and improving contact tracing

Tonight, CPS finally sent communication that launches the sign-up for paid voluntary contact tracing teams, with a timeline of sign-up by next week. CPS asserts that principals have final say as to who is allowed to participate in this paid work.

While CPS tries to control the process by controlling the number of contact tracers, the Union is demanding the district be transparent with its selection criteria. We must have minimal limitations on members’ ability to volunteer, be trained and help conduct this critical safety work.

If you learn of any restrictions or instances where members are unfairly prohibited from volunteering, immediately flag this with your administration through your safety committee. Please promptly report unresolved concerns to the District Safety Committee via ctulocal1.org/safety or reach out to CTU staff for assistance.

Sign up for paid safety work, including contact tracing

We need to hear from the many members who have expressed interest in contact tracing, phone banking for COVID-19 testing and other new, paid roles to support safety in your schools. Please fill out this form to tell us what role you want to fill as we put pressure on CPS to get this work started.

Implementing sub stipend incentive for January

CPS confirmed that it will award the $1,000 stipend to substitute teachers per the Safety Agreement with adjusted terms for the month of January 2022, due to the way the remote work action and lockout impacted the eligible number of days that substitute teachers could work.

The district has agreed that in order to receive the $1,000 stipend in January 2022, substitutes teachers must work 75 percent of all eligible work days in the month. Because of the remote work action, the MLK Jr. holiday and the School Improvement Day this Friday, the Monday and Friday component of the incentive is not necessary this month.

By our count, any day-to-day and provisional substitute teacher who works nine out of the 12 working days (9/12 = 75 percent) when students were present in the month of January should receive the stipend. The 12 working days are: Jan 12-14, Jan. 18-21, Jan. 24-27 and Jan. 31.

If CPS tries to use the two days before the remote work action (Jan. 3-4) when no Safety Agreement extending this stipend was in place, the Union will pursue grievance remedy and other action.

Safety tools and resources

Our organizers and field reps continue to build out this growing toolkit of information to strengthen safety and enforcement for every school community. Use the links above, share them with colleagues and staff, and be sure to let CTU staff about other safety needs in your school.