CHICAGO — The Chicago Teachers Union held a rally Friday to support teachers who have been disciplined for refusing to return to their classrooms.
Chicago Public Schools insists schools are safe and those teachers are expected to report to work.
About 100 union members met in their vehicles at Union Park around 9 a.m., then caravanned through the city, past schools and to board members homes.
The union says CPS’ plan to open schools is not working, and cases of COVID-19 are growing across the district — though so far, no schools have had to pause in-person learning.
“I feel more confident and a lot safer than I did at the beginning of this whole situation,” Principal of Jordan Community School in Rogers Park Gilberto Piedrahita said.
This is the first week back for pre-kindergarten and special education students who opted for in-person learning. The district has spent millions upgrading its schools ventilation systems and creating distance in classrooms for students to learn in-person.
Kindergarten through eighth grade students who opted for in-person learning will begin Feb. 1.
The district says there have been some reported cases of Covid, but there has been no outbreaks and no reason to pause in-person learning. The district also made good on its promise to cut off access to remote learning and dock pay for teachers, refusing to go back to their schools teach.
A majority of teachers are back in the classroom.
More than 150 CPS school nurses signed a letter to Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Thursday, telling her now is not the time to open schools back up.
“I want to teach them remotely, safely, from my home,” Corkery Elementary School teacher Linda Perales said.
The districts says schools would not be opening if Chicago public health officials did not think it was safe.
The union says they are being asked to choose between their lives or their livelihoods. The union says some teachers live with high-risk family members. The union says it has two demands; one is to end the lockout of teachers who want to teach remotely.
“One of my messages for teachers who are resisting today, is that, we’re here to compromise, we just have to have the conversation at the bargaining table, not on social media, not in the street,” CPS CEO Janice Jackson said.