Lightfoot, CTU at odds over CPS COVID-19 safety agreement

Coronavirus

CHICAGO — Mayor Lori Lightfoot is under fire over her administration’s response to COVID-19, with Chicago Teachers Union members calling Chicago Public School’s reopening plan a failure. 

CTU blasted Lightfoot over safety in city schools, saying CPS needs more nurses. However, the union adds that they are concerned about the thousands of students currently under quarantine. 

Linda Jiles, a nurse at Jensen Elementary School, expressed her grievances on Wednesday. 

“We need temperature taking. We need more nurses,” she said. “We need a nurse in every school, every day.” 

CTU recording secretary Crystal Williams also spoke out Wednesday about the number of students currently under quarantine after being exposed to Covid-19. 

“For there to be 10 out of 17 classes in one school quarantined is a shame,” Williams said. “We need the mayor to step it up over here.” 
 
CTU said there are currently 10,000 students in quarantine across the district. Union members have tasked the city to join them in constructing a better safety plan that addresses several concerns. 
 
“The virus is more contagious. We have more people in the schools. It’s worse in terms of the exposure but the testing program got scaled-down,” said CTU president Jesse Sharkey. “They kept the same number of contact tracers despite the fact the number of students went up by a factor of six, so it’s been a disaster.” 

Lightfoot responded on Wednesday, saying in part: “Them being on the sidelines and lobbing bombs ain’t going to get it done. They need to be at the table with us.” 

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Lightfoot said she directed Dr. Allison Arwady with the Chicago Department of Public Health to get “fully engaged” and develop better safety protocols for schools. 

The mayor also directed her ire to the Fraternal Order of Police on Wednesday for pushing back against the Oct. 15 deadline for city workers to be vaccinated. 

FOP President John Catanzara told WGN by phone Wednesday that his union, police sergeants and captains unions do not want a city vaccine mandate. 
 
“It is unconscionable the FOP is taking the position that they will not do the right thing by their members and get them vaccinated,” Lightfoot said.  

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