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We’ve received numerous reports of members being told by their principals that they cannot work remotely even if they have no in-person students. This is not correct, except under certain circumstances – and members need to demand that their rights to remote work under the Memorandum of Agreement be honored.

The new Memorandum of Agreement with CPS includes numerous strategies that principals must reasonably use – including allowing teachers, TAs and other classroom staff with no in-person students to continue to work remotely to minimize the number of in-person staff needed at your school. By minimizing the number of staff working in-person, we can both make the school safer for everyone and allow additional telework accommodations to be granted to members concerned about exposing high-risk individuals in their household to COVID-19.

CPS has now directed principals that teachers and staff with no in-person students may only be allowed to work remotely if they have applied for and been denied a remote work accommodation based on a household member at high-risk for COVID-19.

This is not accurate and contradicts the bargaining history and plain language of the agreement.

CTU leadership has contacted CPS officials about this directive and are demanding that CPS immediately reverse course.

Members should also know, however, that having no students on your roster does not guarantee you the right to work remotely.

Principal are supposed to consider several factors in determining who can continue remotely. Under the agreement, in most situations where an educator has no in-person students, the reasonable course for the principal to take is to allow continued remote work. There are other such situations where a principal may have good reason to ask a teacher or staff member to work in-person despite all their students staying remote. For instance, if a relatively young Pre-K teacher without any underlying health conditions has no students on her roster, but the other pre-K teacher has a medically fragile spouse and in-person students, it would likely be reasonable for the principal to ask the first teacher to report in-person to allow an additional telework accommodation for the other member.

It is absolutely not reasonable, though, for CPS central office to tell principals that they are not permitted to allow remote work for educators who haven’t requested a household member accommodation. We will take swift action to enforce this language.

If CPS attempts to maintain this position, please challenge your administration with the help of your Delegate and PPC, by sharing the language found in Section 8(b) of the agreement (included below). If your principal will not abide by the agreement, members with no in-person students who do not feel comfortable coming into school buildings can do as follows:

  • The MOA allows any member for any reason to take an unpaid, job-protected leave with full benefits.
  • Members who were denied telework despite having no in-person students and without any other good reason for the denial can take that leave, while noting in writing that they are reserving rights to challenge the telework denial;
  • Then file a grievance seeking to reverse the denial and recoup lost wages for any time on unpaid leave following the telework denial.

Please contact your CTU Delegate, Field Representative, or Organizer for additional support. You can also view this information and other important info about the MOA on our FAQ. Check back often, as we’re adding new information daily.

Section 8(b) of our MOA, provides, in relevant part as follows:

“Principals will reasonably utilize the following strategies to minimize the level of in-person staffing in affected schools:

  • Teachers and classroom staff with no assigned in-person students on their roster or caseload may work remotely.
  • Reassigning students to different homerooms or sections of the same subject or grade levels, including combining classes
  • Swapping class assignments among appropriately-qualified, licensed teachers or paraprofessionals
  • Pairing in-person teachers and staff with teleworking teachers and staff, respectively, in order to create student rosters for employees which are all in-person or all remote.
  • Creating multi-grade classes spanning no more than two grade levels

Where it is operationally feasible, schools shall endeavor to implement schedules in which in-person teachers are predominantly focused on providing in-person instruction whereas other teachers are predominantly focused on providing remote instruction.”