CTU members have bravely stood up for safety since the pandemic began, including this January, and that effort has reaped benefits. Among those benefits is a major increase in contact tracing, vaccination events and outreach to families about opting in to COVID testing. Prior to our taking action and finally winning a safety agreement, CPS had failed to hire the staff necessary to perform the work needed to bring safe levels of vaccination and testing to our schools. Thanks to the January agreement, CPS educators can choose to work after school and be paid to help fill that gap. It is unfortunate that teachers, clinicians and PSRPs have to step in and put in extra time so that CPS can fulfill the promises they made, but CTU members have always gone above and beyond.
Thanks to these new rules, some 315 schools now have at least one person assigned to their contact tracing team and, of those, more than 230 have more than one contact tracer. This work is sorely needed because more than two-thirds of those schools have vaccinations rates under 50 percent. A similar number have less than half their student population opted in to testing. While this new staffing holds promise for improved safety, it still leaves more than 200 schools with no contact tracers at all. The Union has plans to follow up about what is holding those schools back and what we can do to support greater safety there.
This is only one of the provisions that continues to improve safety for our educators, our students and their families. You will see more information below about masks, testing and vaccination captains and phone banking. Complete COVID safety information continues to be compiled at ctulocal1.org/safety and you can get updates on safety bargaining at ctulocal1.org/chart.
Contact tracer training, positions and payment
As shared above, more than 300 schools have had principals select staff to be on school contact tracing teams and that work should be happening. CPS says more payroll guidance is coming to help School Clerks ensure those team members are paid.
As we informed members previously, CPS is paying members to take the contact tracer training. They will be paid even if they are not ultimately offered the positions or choose to do this after-hours work. At this point, CPS has closed the trainings for contact tracing, which had four parts: HIPAA and FERPA (1 hour, combined), OSHW (1 hour) and Johns Hopkins (6 hours). Those who completed any part of the training will be paid for the hours completed, even if all were not completed, at the non-instructional rate of $44.69 on their paycheck for April 8. The cost will come from the central CPS budget, not school budgets.
CPS says they have plenty of pediatric and adult KN95 masks in the “warehouse” and all that principals have to do is request them. Please report to the district safety committee if your school safety committee is being told there are no more. That is unacceptable.
We have requested a full accounting of how many KN95s remain and how they will be distributed to schools who want them. We’ve also requested that CPS make N95s available to the most vulnerable members.
Schools that don’t have a captain, can still get one.
CPS says that there are nearly 270 Testing/Vaccinatino Captains in 240 schools. Captains received a somewhat thin set of guidance but should do your best to coordinate phone banks and other outreach to families to get them signed up for COVID testing and connect them to vaccination opportunities. Principals can request vaccination events at https://chicagopsprod.service-now.com/sp?id=sc_cat_item&sys_id=3d6824b41bb5859c5b162f82b24bcb44
Clerks should be able to enroll members to be paid to phone bank for testing. We know that more than 100 individuals have been or are being processed for payment. Members who phone banked in January should be enrolled to be paid and phone banks should be ongoing. If clerks need the payroll guidance, they can ask their principal or you can contact your field rep for guidance.