‘Feels like Groundhog Day’ says Lightfoot as CPS families await CTU’s decision on remote learning

Chicago News

CHICAGO – Flanked by top officials in Chicago’s public schools and health departments, Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Tuesday night reiterated her frustration with Chicago Teachers Union’s impending vote on remote learning, relaying that she feels the city has been here one too many times before.

“It feels like Groundhog Day,” the mayor said in a press conference that started just before 8 p.m.

Lightfoot, CPS CEO Pedro Martinez and Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health Dr. Allison Arwady spoke to the concerns of once again yanking students from the classroom as the Chicago school community waits to learn if there will be school Wednesday.

While the city’s teachers union and school leaders face off over remote learning, WGN News has learned that 88% of the Chicago Teacher’s Union’s House of Delegates has voted ‘yes’ in approval of a resolution for CPS students to learn remotely for a couple of weeks, beginning Wednesday.  

Now, the entire CTU can vote – a decision Lightfoot is none too pleased with.

“We saw a three-fold increase in the number of failure rates among elementary school children not only that we heard from parents how disruptive that remote learning was to their lifestyles,” Lightfoot said Tuesday afternoon during earlier speaking engagements.

Lightfoot, Martinez and Arwady all said CPS schools are safe for students amid the recent COVID-19 surge.  

However, a representative from CTU told WGN News that unless the surge subsides or testing and safety measures in schools are improved, the union proposes remote learning to take effect Jan. 5 through Jan. 18. The district has not authorized remote learning, so CPS calls this move by the teachers “illegal.”

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: CPS says if CTU votes for remote learning, schools will remain open Wednesday with classes canceled 

Additionally, CEO Martinez says he will cancel all instruction Wednesday if the union votes’ yes’ to the remote learning proposal. 

A portion of the CPS statement states, in part, that a transition to in-person learning will be decided on a school-by-school basis.   

Some of the criteria listed include: 

  • If 40% or more of a school’s classroom teachers are absent for two days in a row because of the teachers’ positive COVID-19 cases, and the school-wide teacher absence rate because of COVID-19 cases remains at or above 30% with the use of substitutes or internal staff.  
  • The other criteria includes if 50% of elementary school classrooms have more than 50% of students in quarantine. 
  • In high schools if more than 50% of the total student population has been instructed to quarantine. 

CPS says families can expect a district-wide call, email and text following CTU’s vote, regardless of the outcome. 

A vote on the matter is expected to be complete by 9 p.m.  Additionally, CPS has offered a proposal to CTU which includes, increased contact tracing capability and 200,000 KN-95 masks to be immediately distributed to staff.  

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