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In-person classes canceled again in Chicago as dispute continues over Covid safety protocols

Jan. 28, 2021
Chicago Teachers Union members are balking at returning to in-person instruction because they feel measures to protect the health of students and staff are insufficient.

Chicago Public Schools is continuing with remote learning on Friday, as it tries to make a deal with the Chicago Teachers Union so that elementary schools can open on Monday. In the meantime,  preparations for a possible teachers strike are becoming increasingly serious.

The Chicago Tribune reports that district leaders still hope to reach a deal in time to welcome back K-8 students on Monday, Schools CEO Janice Jackson says.

More than 3,000 prekindergarten and special education students returned to schools the week of Jan. 11, but in-person classes have been called off this week in light of a union resolution to only work remotely.

Teachers are refusing to return to in-person institution because of concerns about the adequacy of safety measures to combat Covid-19.

Earlier: In-person classes in Chicago Public Schools were canceled Thursday as the district tries to reach a deal with the teachers union to avoid a strike by employees who are refusing to return to schools.

Thursday is the second day in a row that preschool and special education students who resumed in-person classes earlier this month were told to stay home.

Less than 14% of K-8 teachers who were told to return to school buildings Wednesday did so, according to the district.

The union is collectively refusing to return to in-person instruction because its members believe the health and safety protocols the district has put into place are insufficient.

Only 1,922 of 12,292 of the elementary, prekindergarten and special education teachers required to work in person Wednesday showed up.

Of the K-8 employees who were supposed to return Wednesday, less than 35% did so—about 14% of teachers and 69% of paraprofessional staff.

Among school-based prekindergarten and special education cluster staff, who have been working in school buildings since Jan. 4, more than 49% reported to work Wednesday, including 28% of teachers and 66% of paraprofessional staff.

Union president Jesse Sharkey says negotiations with the district have made progress on cleaning protocols, masking, ventilation and the formation of school-level safety committee.

About the Author

Mike Kennedy | Senior Editor

Mike Kennedy has been writing about education for American School & University since 1999. He also has reported on schools and other topics for The Chicago Tribune, The Kansas City Star, The Kansas City Times and City News Bureau of Chicago. He is a graduate of Michigan State University.

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