Teachers at CPS high schools returned to the classroom this week. Chicago Public Schools reported that over 84% of its high school teachers returned to their classroom on Monday. They are preparing for the return to in-person learning on April 19. The Chicago Teachers Union warns that its members will return to remote learning if an agreement with CPS is not reached by mid-week.
The CTU House of Delegates voted Sunday evening to approve the move if an agreement with CPS leadership is not reached by Wednesday. Chicago Teachers Union President Jesse Sharkey said, “Our rank-and-file members told the leadership of the CTU in no uncertain terms that we’re not simply reopening schools without more progress at the bargaining table and without a return agreement in high school.”
Last week CTU leaders asked CPS to delay the return to in-person learning for high school students by one week. They wanted the extra time to gain more information on coronavirus variants and transmission rates. CPS leadership rejected the request citing that elementary schools “have shown that safe in-person learning is possible right now.”
CPS district leaders have stated that their “top priority” is getting high school students back in the classroom. Michael Passman, a representative for CPS, issued a statement saying, “Tens of thousands of high school students and their families are counting on us to open high school classrooms in one week, and we are firmly committed to making that happen.”
While both sides state that some progress was made during negotiations over the weekend, CTU says there is still more work to be done. Issues like vaccinations, work accommodations, and student schedules are still on the table.
Sharkey said that Sunday’s vote was to approve the potential action on Wednesday. “What that means is it that on Wednesday, high school teachers will not be going into the buildings without that agreement,” stated Sharkey.
He added that if CPS locks teachers out of their goggle classroom accounts, it may lead to “more consequences.”
Paula J. Shelton is a freelance writer and journalist based in Chicago. Find her on social @beboldshineon.