Battle between CPS and CTU continues as teachers ordered back to classrooms starting Wednesday

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CHICAGO — Less than a week until 71,000 more Chicago Public School students are scheduled to return to the classroom — but the Chicago Teachers Union says the district’s plan is not holding up.

The CPS plan calls for kindergarten through eighth grade students to return to the classroom next Monday if they opted for in-person instruction, but most have not. That means teachers are being called back into the classroom on Wednesday, regardless.

CTU members voted Sunday to defy that order. They say CPS’ plan, including its vaccination schedule, does not get a passing grade.

In the cold and snow Tuesday morning, CTU rallied against the district’s plan to get kindergarten through 8th grade students back into the classroom.

“We want to return to school but we want to return to school safely. This is a management and structural access issue. It’s inequitable,” said Tiffany Childress Price, Science teacher at Walter Payton Prep.

Three weeks ago, pre-kindergarten and cluster teachers were ordered back with those students on Jan. 11.

Some teachers who did not return, but who CPS said did not have a medical reason to stay home, have been locked out from virtual classrooms.

“I have practiced my right work in a safe environment and not entered a school building because I know that CPS claims that they have Covid testing, that they have cleaning and sanitation and air purification and that it’s safe, but we know the reality,” said Linda Perales, a locked-out teacher.

CPS CEO Janice Jackson met online with CPS parents Monday morning.

“I truly believe that the plan we have in place prioritizes the health and safety of our students and our staff. We would not make a decision to return to in-person instruction if we didn’t think we could do so safely,” Jackson told parents.

While a majority of parents have opted their student remain virtual, others say in-person is essential.

CTU says wanting to stay virtual is “not a strike,” since teachers intend to continue working from home.

CPS gave extra time for teachers to come back to class — originally it was Monday, now it’s Wednesday. The union has said it would only have a work stoppage if no agreement is reached by Wednesday, and CPS decides to block teachers from remote work.

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