Even though students are supposed to be back in classroom on February 1, the Chicago Teacher’s Union (CTU) voted Sunday to disregard the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) administration and is refusing to return to in-person teaching.
Last week, some Chicago students who were mostly preschoolers and students with moderate to severe special needs, returned to empty classrooms, because teachers called in sick to resist CPS’s directive that they return to classrooms. CTU instead issued demands which said they would not return to the classroom unless “all school employees have had the opportunity to get vaccinated, or until the city’s positivity rate falls to 3 percent and its rate of new cases falls below 400 per day.”
CPS responded that any teacher who did not show up for work would be designated “absent without leave” and would not be eligible for pay.
According to WBEZ, on Monday “18 percent of teachers and staff who were required to return failed to do so and that, starting Tuesday, some of them will lose pay and be cut off from their virtual classrooms.” CPS did end up having to make good on their threat Tuesday and locked absent teachers out of virtual classrooms and used in person substitutes instead. CTU has called the lockout illegal.
According to WGN in Chicago, The union’s collective bargaining agreement, which was approved after a contentions two week 2019 strike, “prohibits its roughly 25,000 members from striking and bars district officials from locking them out. District officials have said a union vote to disobey the order to return to schools on Monday would violate the contract.”
Earlier this month, a CTU board executive Sarah Chambers posted selfies of her Caribbean vacation, while she issued tweets telling teachers not to return to school, claiming it's unsafe for them to go back to school amid the pandemic and threatened a strike.
The Daily Wire reported that CTU at one point, “suggested that any plan to return to in-classroom teaching would be both racist and sexist.”
CPS announced a vaccination plan for teachers and staff that would begin mid February.
Public opinion may have turned against the CTU as President Joe Biden promised to have the majority of schools reopened within his first 100 days in the White House. Many experts and agencies are now recommending a return to in person schooling for students, in response to rocketing mental health problems including depression, addiction and suicide.