Students leave Darwin Elementary School in Chicago’s Logan Square on Monday, January 3, 2022, the first day they return to school after winter break at Chicago public schools.
Brian Cassella | Tribune News Service | Getty Images
Chicago school leaders canceled classes Thursday for the second day in a row after failing to reach an agreement with a teachers union over Covid safety protocols in the nation’s third-largest school district.
The Chicago Teachers Union has tried to return to distance learning during the latest wave of infections and while the two sides are striking a deal. But Chicago public school leaders said distance learning is not working and schools can remain open with established protocols.
The decision to cancel classes and events on Thursday affected an estimated 350,000 students and came after closed-door talks on Wednesday fell flat. Problems include school closure rates.
“We have no choice but to cancel classes tomorrow,” the school’s general director, Pedro Martinez, said at a press conference Wednesday night.
The Chicago public school system is the first of the largest counties in the country to close its doors amid the new wave of coronavirus. New York Mayor Eric Adams stressed schools will remain open earlier this week. Los Angeles County schools did not return to online learning, but students and staff were instructed virus test before returning from winter break.
In Chicago, unionists criticized the district’s response to the highly contagious variant of the omicron virus. In issue, the union argued that the district authorities “endanger the safety and vitality of our students and their teachers.” Union members said there were not enough testing resources and called on the mayor’s office to take additional security measures to slow the spread of the virus.
Chicago Teachers Union President Jesse Sharkey told Associated Press faculty that they don’t want to return to personal teaching until the current surge dies down.
“We would prefer to teach in our classrooms, we would prefer schools to be open. We say that right now we are in the middle of a great leap forward, it is breaking all records, and hospitals are overcrowded. “he said during a Wednesday morning press conference with other unions, teachers and parents.
But CPS officials resisted, saying the decision was unnecessary and disruptive for some families.
“No one signs up for homeschooling at the last minute,” Chicago Mayor Laurie Lightfoot said at a press conference ahead of the vote, calling the move an illegal work stoppage. “We cannot forget how destructive this remote process is for individual parents who have to work and who cannot afford the luxury of staying at home.”
Union Voting Occurs Due To Spread Of Covid Infection record highs in Chicago. The city’s health department said Tuesday that Chicago is on average registering more than 4,000 new cases per day. The number of hospitalizations also increased slightly compared to the previous week.
Since late August, nearly 5,000 students have tested positive for the virus., according to CPS… During the same period, 1,802 adult school workers also reported cases. The highest week for positive cases among students and adults was in December, according to data provided by the district.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.