Chicago teachers who’ve been locked out of their education accounts after refusing to show up for in-person learning this week showed up outside the home of Board of Education President Miguel del Valle to call for a safer school reopening plan.
With temperatures just above freezing, members of the Chicago Teachers Union held a teach-out at del Valle’s Northwest Side home Wednesday morning, with educators who’ve been allowed to continue working remotely joining those who have been ordered back into their schools to resume in-person learning.
“Miguel del Valle, we are here because you have the power to do something,” Chicago Public Schools teacher Quetzalli Castro said. “The mayor has the power to do something. And (CPS CEO) Dr. (Janice) Jackson has the power to do something about this plan.”
More than 3,800 educators and CPS employees were due to return to their schools as some pre-kindergarten and special education cluster program students began in-person learning Monday.
Of those, 145 staffers were deemed absent without leave after failing to show up for work Monday. CPS has said those employees will not be paid and will be locked out of their Google Classroom and Gmail accounts until they report to their schools in-person.
The teachers union continues to oppose a return to in-person learning until it is safer to do so, given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. CPS has said it spent more than $100 million to ensure school buildings are safe for students and staff, and has put in place safety protocols to help prevent spread of the disease.
Some educators outside del Valle’s home Wednesday said they’ve been ordered back to their schools even though all their students opted to remain learning remotely.
“I cannot wait to be back in the classroom with my students, but now is not the time to reopen our schools,” said Sol Camano, a pre-K teacher at Prieto Math & Science Academy in the Belmont Cragin neighborhood. “It’s far too dangerous, especially in our community where the positivity rate is at 16%.”
CPS has not yet said how many students returned to their classrooms. Those figures are expected by the end of the week.
Some 70,000 kindergarten through eighth grade students are expected to return to schools Feb. 1.