CTU says high school teachers to teach remotely until reopening deal reached

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CHICAGO — Chicago Teachers Union says its high school teachers will teach Wednesday but not from their classrooms. The union and Chicago Public Schools are trying to work out a reopening agreement that would get try high school students back in class on Monday. 

Negotiations will continue Wednesday and while the union says some progress has been made they have a ways to go. However, some parents say enough is enough. 

A demonstration was held Tuesday in front of the Chicago Teachers Union headquarters. The demonstration was not large, but their message was loud and clear — stop delaying and start teaching.

“Parents are frustrated, upset. This is a long slug to get the option of in-person,” Nancy Griffin, Chicago Parents Collective, said.

Griffin is a founder of the Chicago Parents Collective, a new group that’s been working since the first of the year to get kids back into classrooms. 

The teachers unions wants to delay the opening of high schools for a week as they continue to push for four issues: scheduling students who are used to changing classes and teachers, accommodations for at risk staff, a vaccination plan for students and it wants to keep teachers remote if their students are.   

The union also points to rising covid cases in the city as another reason to hold off bringing kids back on Monday. 

“We’re doing the option to protest the fact that we do not yet have a return to work agreement,” said CTU president Jessi Sharkey.

CPS says its working on a vaccination plan but no details have been released. Teachers were supposed to be back in class today to prepare for the return of students but the union voted to stay remote.

The union is mirroring the same actions it took when CPS wanted to bring younger kids back this winter. Last minute negotiations avoided a strike. 

“Two of major issues where the mayor and CPS refuse to make adequate movement are vaccine access for age-eligible CPS students and their families and leaves and accommodations for educators with family in health challenges,” said CTU deputy general counsel Thad Goodchild.

These parents want to avoid all of this as well — they want them back in school and they, along with CPS, say mitigation work by the district has worked and it has been a successful reopening of kindergarten through eighth grade.

CTU characterized recent negotiations as promising, as parents wait for word on what will happen next week.

“We love our teachers,” Griffin said. “But the constant instability and explaining it to kids is really hard for parents.”

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