State Senator Emil Jones III (D-Chicago) is in full support of the Chicago Teachers Union’s vote on Tuesday, January 4, to return to remote learning.
The vote forced Chicago Public Schools to cancel classes on Wednesday, January 5, after CTU members grew concerned that CPS had no safety plan in response to the COVID-19 surge.
By Crusader press time Wednesday, it was unclear whether CPS would cancel in-person classes for the rest of the week. However, food service was still available at schools between 9 a.m. and noon, and COVID-19 testing and vaccination events will continue as scheduled.
In a statement, CPS CEO Pedro Martinez said, “I understand your frustration and deeply regret this interruption to your child’s learning. We want our children back in their classrooms as soon as possible and will continue working with the CTU to reach an agreement that addresses their concerns and that is in the best interest of all in our CPS community, especially our children.”
CTU tweeted just before 11 p.m. that 73 percent of its members voted in favor of the remote work only “job action,” which they said will end when either the current COVID surge subsides or Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s team at CPS signs “an agreement establishing conditions for return that are voted on and approved by the CTU House of Delegates.”
Jones said, “With the recent rise in cases, it is crucial that we keep our children and educators safe during this time, which makes remote schooling the best option.
It is shameful that the city of Chicago would lock teachers out of their portals, inhibiting them from doing their jobs and blocking access to the resources needed for teaching.”
Though CTU instructed its members to work remotely, CPS has not accepted the decision, canceling all classes, sporting events and extracurricular activities scheduled for Wednesday.
“Our primary concern should be the children – their needs and their safety,” Jones added. “The union voted to temporarily bring back e-learning and they should be supported in their decision. Anything in opposition would disrupt the children’s learning further, and they don’t need any more setbacks.”
CTU cited rising numbers of COVID-19 cases among students and teachers as part of the reason for the switch to remote learning. CPS has been criticized for not providing adequate testing and better quality masking and other protocols in the wake of the Omicron variant surge.