Union vote could trigger ‘electronic lockout’ of Chicago

Chicago Public Schools, the nation’s third-largest school district, resumed in-person learning Monday and maintains safe conditions for in-person instruction.

The union meeting on Tuesday will include a survey of group representatives (elected union leaders for individual schools) if they support a return to distance learning until the pandemic is better controlled.

According to the official, the union will also send the same query electronically to its nearly 25,000 rank-and-file members on Tuesday.

If rank-and-file members vote to return to distance learning, those teachers will notify their respective principals on Tuesday evening or Wednesday morning that they will be ready to teach, but only remotely – effectively Will drop out of physical classes.

At that point, it will be in the hands of Chicago public schools to potentially lock teachers out of their remote classrooms, as the district has threatened to do so under similar circumstances in the past.

Nearly 80% of the 8,000 members who attended the union’s virtual town hall meeting on Sunday indicated that they do not want to return to work in person under the current circumstances, according to a union official.

The official said the vote could trigger a “large-scale electronic lockout”.

Part of the union’s hesitation to return has come with the recent rise in Covid-19 cases among students and the wider community, as well as uncertainty over the current picture of infections.

According to data released by Chicago Public Schools, 35,590 Covid-19 tests were completed by students and staff between December 26 and January 1, and 24,843 were declared invalid. Of the tests that were accepted, 18% tested positive for COVID-19.

In a statement to CNN, Chicago Public Schools wrote, “Over the holiday weekend, we learned from our vendors, ThermoFisher and Color, that more than half of the 40,000 submitted tests could not be validated. Continuing to explore, we are focused on increasing opportunities for on-site testing for affected students and schools this week as part of our ongoing weekly testing.”

School system ‘deeply concerned’

“CPS is aware of CTU’s call for potential member actions, including a refusal to report on work, which CPS is deeply concerned about, putting the health and safety of our community members, particularly our students, at risk could be,” read part of the statement.

Chicago public schools reach tentative agreement with teachers union, mayor says

“In the face of the challenges of the pandemic, we plan to double down on those proven COVID-19 mitigation strategies: vaccination, testing, contact tracing, universal masking; social distancing; strong hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette; surveillance and high indoor air quality; appropriate thoroughly clean and disinfect spaces; and tell some employees and families that sick people should stay at home,” it continued.

As the school district approaches winter break, it reported its highest weekly COVID-19 case count since the school year began. Across the city, over the past two weeks, Chicago has reported its highest daily cases of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.

“Remote two-way live online instruction” is available for any student directed to quarantine due to coronavirus concerns.

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