Mayor’s office insists she’s doing ‘everything in her power’ to bring kids back to school – including threatening teachers’ pay
Chicago Teachers Union decided to stop in-person classes. It claims that the increase in Covid-19 cases made schools uninhabitable, while officials from school boards warn that the strike is illegal.
While Chicago Public Schools (CPS) CEO Pedro Martinez acknowledged on Tuesday that if the union voted for remote learning and opted not to show up, there would be no classes on Wednesday, he insisted school buildings would be open and teachers and students alike were welcome to come to classrooms – there just might not be any classes going on there.
“If they vote to walkout tomorrow I must cancel classes,” Martinez said earlier Tuesday. “The schools will not be closed. Schools will remain open. Staff will also be invited to attend school, as we have a program for families. We will never let parents down..”
“Voting to end reporting to work will cause serious harm to our children’s health and learning, and also be detrimental to their well-being and the wellbeing of their families.,” CPS warned.
CPS officials denounced any potential union vote authorizing remote instruction from Wednesday forward as an “Strike illegal.” The union, on the other hand, released a memo to its teachers informing them January 18 would be the next day of in-person classes.
CPS was supported by Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who declared that the union does not have unilateral power to cancel classes. “The [Chicago Teachers Union]Our CPS system’s operation is not the CEO’s responsibility. Only the CEO makes decisions. The CEO is the boss,” she told a reporter on Tuesday after she was asked whether the schools would switch to remote learning if teachers stopped coming to school.
Lightfoot tweeted a plea to teachers to “Attend your schools” because “your kids need you,” insisting the administration was following the guidance of its own public-health officials and the Centers for Disease Control. She threatened to withhold teacher’s pay if they didn’t turn up at work after the union vote.
The union insisted that while its members “Recognize the frustration caused by tonight’s announcement,” they needed the mayor and CPS leadership to “Last but not least, commit to providing safety protections that protect our students and their families.” Some 73% of them had voted in favor of remote work, having demanded over the holiday break that the administration adopt universal PCR testing of students and staff alike or switch to remote learning.
Since the start of the epidemic, only six Chicago residents aged under 17 are believed to have been infected with Covid-19. That’s a fraction of the 6254 cases. Scientists agree that although the Omicron variant is contagious it is not as deadly as its predecessors.
Chicago’s Covid-19 cases are currently at an all-time high. The city has placed strict vaccine mandates on everyone, preventing them from going to restaurants or entertainment venues until they have been vaccinated. As with other workers in the city, Chicago Board of Education teachers and employees have been mandated to get vaccinated. However, this has yet to apply to students.