Some Jones teachers partake in ‘Day of Action’

CTU holds citywide car rallies, possible strike to come

Teachers+paste+a+%27SAFETY%27+sign+to+the+back+of+a+car

Ava Thompson '21

Teachers paste a ‘SAFETY’ sign to the back of a car

*** Indicates a name has been changed due to privacy concerns

The Chicago Teachers Union orchestrated a “Day of Action” on Friday, Jan. 15 in protest of return- ing to in-person learning.

The CTU asked teachers to take the day off of school and to pro- test all over the city. Principal Joseph Paul Powers said around 30 teachers were absent for school that day in his weekly email.

This “Day of Action” esca- lates the tensions between Chicago Public Schools and the CTU. CPS started reopening schools for Pre-K and cluster programs on Jan.11 after fierce pushpack from the CTU.

“Over the first few weeks of in-person learning, we’ve seen just how successful the return to in-person instruction has been,” said Mayor Lori Lightfoot in a statement to the Blueprint. “Especially for some of our highest-need learners and their families. I am confident that CPS will continue working closely with school communities and union leadership to further its reopening plan and protect the health of students and staff.”

The Chicago Sun Times reported the CTU House of Delegates voted to initiate a “non-strike” vote on Thursday. The resolution passed with 84% support.The union told the Sun Times this vote isn’t a strike rather a vote to keep working remotely. CPS is calling this vote an “illegal strike”

However, the Illinois Edu- cational Labor Realtion Board ruled late December that the CTU can not “bargain” with CPS over the reopen- ing of schools. Through this decision, CPS teachers who did not report to work were locked out of their Google accounts. The Illinois Board of Education also negotiates reopening plans.

“[The CTU was] looking to see what kind of action could show the Board of Education that we really wanted to negotiate: what are the conditions for a safe return and, what makes remote learning better until we have that happen,” said Jones CTU representative Anthony Cappetta.

However, Cappetta said the rally had its “intended impact,” since reopening negotiations are going “better.” Teachers will vote Thursday through Saturday. The vote will be authorized by Sunday night.

Some public health officials said it’s safe to reopen schools with- out a vaccine. Infectious Disease Ex- pert Dr. Anthony Fauci told Business Insider to ‘open schools’ at the end of November. ABC7 reported Chicago teachers will be vaccinated in the

Phase 1B group. The group will be vaccinated through- out February and March. “For several months, CPS has been diligently preparing to welcome students and staff back into their buildings,” said Lightfoot. “Throughout this process, the district hasn’t taken any shortcuts—making significant improvements to clean- ing protocols, providing sufficient amounts of PPE, and putting contin- gency plans in place to ensure a safe reopening.”

However, “high-risk” teachers can teach remotely if their physisian approved their accomdation based on the American Disabilities Act (ADA).

“I am in favor of reopen- ing schools as safely as possible,” English teacher Brady Gunnink said in an email. “However, many of my colleagues that are being asked to return to the school buildings under the current CPS plan are concerned about their safety.”

After the injunction, the CTU released a list of demands for returning safely. The demands included the city be under a 3 percent positivty rate, enforce safety proto- cols, test, contact trace, “bargain in good faith” and vaccinate teachers.

“There’s such a bad, distrustful relationship between the teachers [and CPS],” said Social Science teacher Jordan Roe.* Some teachers compared Friday’s “sick-in” to protests of years past.

“This [protest] was harder be- cause teachers had to take a personal day,” said Roe. “If they couldn’t get their personal day approved, they had to take what’s called a ‘zero day,’ where they didn’t get paid.”

Math teacher John Doe* was not in attendance at the rally. He is supportive of the CTU’s endeavors to delay in-person learning.

“It is really important to go back to school in a safe way,” he said. “We want to build trust and relationships with all stakeholders, so I support the union pushing the district to do their jobs better.”