Chicago teachers threatened to strike if the public school district retaliates against any of them who failed to report to school buildings on Wednesday to prepare to resume in-person learning for tens of thousands of students next week.
The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU), which represents 25,000 public school educators, has been locked in negotiations with Chicago Public Schools (CPS) for months over a plan to gradually reopen schools for the system’s 355,000 students. Teachers are demanding stronger safety protocols to prevent the spread of the coronavirus inside the classroom. On Sunday, the union membership voted 71% in favor of a resolution not to return to the classroom and to remain teaching remotely until a stronger health and safety agreement is reached. However despite the vote, the district ordered some 10,000 teachers to report to work on Wednesday, instead of Monday as initially planned. Some 70,000 elementary and middle school students who opted to take classes both in-person and online are due to return at the beginning of next week.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said at a news conference, “We have got to put our children first and schools are such an important part of who they are, a community’s identity and a family’s ability to strive,” making her case for schools to be reopened.
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