Chicago Public Schools (CPS) canceled classes for the fourth consecutive day on Monday amid a Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) strike.
CPS said classes were canceled for all students on Monday, Jan. 20, but said it remains “committed to reaching an agreement with the Chicago Teachers Union as soon as possible,” according to a district statement.
The union voted last week to switch to remote learning, citing a lack of safety guarantees amid a surge of COVID-19 cases and the rise of the Omicron coronavirus variant, a union press release said. In a membership-wide vote, 73% of CTU’s members voted in favor of remote classes, passing the two-thirds threshold required to enact the resolution.
The union’s resolution outlines plans to work remotely until Jan. 18 or until the current coronavirus case wave falls below last year’s threshold for school closures, according to the resolution. CPS locked teachers out of virtual teaching platforms, making remote instruction unavailable.
“Although we have been negotiating hard throughout the day, there has not been sufficient progress for us to predict a return to class tomorrow,” the district said in its Sunday statement. “We will continue to negotiate through the night and will provide an update if we have made substantial progress.”
A small number of schools will be able to offer in-person activities for students depending on the staff that shows to work and possible safety measures, “including universal masking, social distancing, and good hand hygiene.”
“Please do not plan to send your child to school unless their principal tells you that students can come to school for in-person activities,” the CPS statement said.
The CTU has been criticized by both sides of the political spectrum for putting politics ahead of the needs of children, especially minority children who constitute the majority of CPS students. One Chicago teacher battling cancer gained national attention for his decision to break with the union and return to the classroom.
“I’m just trying to do my job,” teacher Joe Ocol told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “They’re (students are) the ones suffering, and the parents who are trying to make ends meet. Parents suffer when their children are at home doing remote learning, when these parents are supposed to be working and earning a living for their families.”
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