CHICAGO — Chicago Teachers Union voted in favor of remote learning late Tuesday night in a move that Chicago Public School leaders said would prompt the cancellation of class Wednesday.
According to an announcement from CTU, 73% of members supported the move. The decision comes following pleas from Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, CPS CEO Pedro Martinez and Commissioner of Chicago Department of Public Health Dr. Allison Arwady that emphasized the safety of city public schools.
When asked if the Chicago Teachers Union votes to go fully remote Wednesday, Martinez said, “Class will be canceled. Schools will be open. We will have a plan tomorrow. We are going to create a plan that’s best for families and students.”
Late Tuesday night, following the vote, CPS released a statement:
Tonight the Chicago Teachers Union voted to stop reporting to work and given that unfortunate decision, Chicago Public Schools must cancel classes tomorrow, Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2022. Despite six months of active, good-faith discussions with the CTU, despite the fact that more than 90 percent of our staff is vaccinated, despite proven and implemented COVID-19 safety measures, and despite little evidence of in-school transmission, our teachers are not willing to report to work. We are deeply concerned about this decision but even more concerned about its impact on the health, safety, and well-being of our students and families.
As the city’s teachers union and school leaders faced off over remote learning, WGN News learned that before the final vote, 88% of the Chicago Teacher’s Union’s House of Delegates voted ‘yes’ in approval of a resolution for CPS students to learn remotely for a couple of weeks, beginning Wednesday.
A vote by the union’s 25,000 members via electronic ballot followed, asking if they preferred working in person or remotely beginning Jan. 5.
Families in need of childcare can view a list of Safe Haven locations that will be open Wednesday.
Chicago Park District field houses will remain open during normal hours and will be available for CPS students ages 6 and older. For more information visit chicagoparkdistrict.com.
WATCH: Late night decision to cancel class leaves parents scrambling
“We are in a surge. One of biggest surges we’ve seen,” CTU Vice President Stacy Davis Gates said early Tuesday.
CTU was demanding increased testing and better masks distributed at schools and said they wanted to halt in-person learning temporarily so that more safety protocols could be put in place.
“This new variant has also affected the vaccinated and the boosted,” Davis-Gates said.
Martinez said he was committed to coming to an agreement with the CTU, despite their desire to move to remote learning. Upon the union’s vote to authorize virtual learning, Martinez said that while classes will be canceled Wednesday, schools will remain open.
“If they take an action to do a walkout, I have to cancel classes tomorrow,” he said. “I’m sorry about that. You will have a plan tomorrow to see how we move forward.”
CPS sent roughly 150,000 COVID-19 tests to hundreds of schools in neighborhoods hit hard by the pandemic. Students were asked to take the tests and return them. But thousands were deemed invalid.
Some samples were delayed in transition and could not be processed before classes resumed.
Arwady said Tuesday that Covid is acting like the flu in children and emphasized the importance of getting vaccinated.
Officials said transmission in schools is typically lower than community-wide transmission.
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Before Tuesday night’s decision, Lightfoot reiterated her frustration with CTU’s impending move to remote learning.
“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.
Some Chicago aldermen have reached out to CPS to urge them to negotiate with CTU over safety. But the two sides have been talking for months without a new agreement.