CHICAGO — In an email to staff Friday evening, Chicago Public Schools said pre-k and cluster teachers who fail to report on Monday will be terminated from system access at the end of the day.
In a response to CTU asking for a gradual return to in-person learning, CPS has proposed the following timeline:
- Pre-K and cluster teachers: Teachers and staff return Feb. 8. Students return Feb. 9.
- Kindergarten – Fifth Grade: Teachers and staff return Feb. 16. Students return Feb. 22.
- Sixth – Eighth Grade: Teachers and staff return Feb. 22. Students return March 1.
“On Monday, pre-k and cluster teachers and staff without an approved accommodation or pending ADA accommodation will be required to report to classrooms. Pre-k and cluster teachers and staff who fail to report will be deemed absent without leave (AWOL) and access to CPS systems will be terminated at the close of business Monday,” CPS said in a letter to staff.
Also in the letter includes the district’s plan for teachers who have concerns about taking home the virus to someone they love.
“We recognize that returning to work is a real concern for employees who live with medically vulnerable family members. Our plan offers these staff members access to the vaccine beginning this Monday. If they choose to be vaccinated in the next two weeks these staff members can continue to work remotely for up to 14 days after their first dose. This initial dose provides substantial protection against COVID-19 on its own; the second dose will follow 28 days after the first. CTU members who decline to take the vaccine and want to remain home can take an unpaid leave of absence with full benefits,” the letter states.
Friday morning Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the head of CPS say they received a counter proposal Thursday from the union, and they responded with their “last, best, and final offer.”
CPS said they expect a response back from CTU on Friday. At this time, the union has not commented on the district’s latest proposals.
In an interview with WGN News Friday, Mayor Lightfoot said remote learning is not working.
“Our schools are safe, 100 million dollars of investments,” Lightfoot said. “And three weeks of proof because we had in person learning until CTU blew it up.”
The union says that it’s not just teachers and staffers who are concerned about in-person learning, but also parents. Midday Friday, CTU released a statement that said Lightfoot and CPS leadership “have walked away from the bargaining table again.”
“This is a pandemic, and that means our schools have to get every single mitigation protection right if we’re serious about keeping children and adults safe,” CTU President Jesse Sharkey said in the statement. “We’re deeply disappointed that the mayor has chosen to stop negotiating and instead move to lock out educators and shut down schools rather than work out our differences.”
Union leaders said another major sticking point is over the timeline for reopening. The union has threatened to strike if teachers are locked out of working remotely until a deal is reached.