Chicago Public Schools high school students will return to the classroom on Monday if teachers agree to the framework announced Thursday by the district and the Chicago Teachers Union.
Chicago Teachers Union President Jesse Sharkey said “adequate progress” hasn’t been made at the bargaining table with CPS after union delegates voted over the weekend to approve Wednesday’s remote-only work action.
The Chicago Teachers Union’s House of Delegates on Sunday evening voted to keep high school staffers out of schools beginning Wednesday as the union continues negotiating with CPS over how to safely reopen those schools.
The Chicago Teachers Union is asking Chicago Public Schools to delay its target reopening date for high schools by one week in order to allow more time to learn about coronavirus variants and current transmission rates.
Defying Mayor Lori Lightfoot, Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed a bill Friday restoring the ability of the Chicago Teachers Union to bargain with the city over a wide range of issues, including class size, layoffs and the duration of the school year.
The first day of school in the next academic year will be Aug. 30, marking a shift away from the normal start date of the Tuesday after Labor Day. Aside from the new start date, the 2021-22 calendar does not change any other traditional components of the academic year.
In total, fewer than 50,000 students have returned to the classroom, below the 77,000 initially estimated by Chicago Public Schools, according to new attendance data released by the school district Friday.
Chicago Public Schools officials say they've offered COVID-19 vaccine opportunities to all employees and hope to get everyone vaccinated by the end of the month, as the district hits the one-year mark since the pandemic forced the suspension of in-person learning across Illinois.
In a letter to parents and families Tuesday, Chicago Public Schools officials said their target goal is to bring back high school students on April 19, the first day of the fourth quarter of this academic year. But the teachers union says no agreement has been made for that date or any other.
In Chicago, philanthropy paid for nearly half the $50 million, four-year Chicago Connected program, which pays for kids’ home internet if they qualify for reduced-price lunches. Chicago Public Schools, the country’s third-largest district, is on the hook for $25 million.
After a year of online or hybrid learning, educators continue to juggle a variety of roles — including providing tech support to some students — all while trying to keep safe from coronavirus. Meanwhile, on the other side of the screen, some students and their families have struggled to keep up.
“We’re super excited about the fact that at this point, all elementary grade students that want an option for in-person (learning) now have an option for in-person instruction, which is really good,” CPS CEO Janice Jackson said.
Chicago Public Schools and Chicago Teachers Union officials met for the first time Wednesday to begin negotiations about how to safely resume in-person learning in the city’s high schools, according to the district’s Chief Education Officer LaTanya McDade.
Some principals concerned over staffing shortages
Tens of thousands more Chicago Public Schools students returned to their classrooms Monday, many for the first time in nearly a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as the district continues its school reopening plan.
The Chicago Board of Education has approved a new measure allowing Chicago Public Schools to track which teachers and employees have gotten a COVID-19 vaccine. Down the line, it would allow the district to require vaccinations.
“We know that many high school students and families are eager to learn more about their return to in-person instruction,” CPS CEO Janice Jackson said Wednesday, “and it is our goal to provide them with a safe in-person option this school year.”