After the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) voted Tuesday to move to remote learning, citing concerns over safety amid a rise in COVID-19 cases, the union received criticism as Chicago Public Schools (CPS) decided to cancel classes.

Teachers Union Strike Forces Chicago Public Schools To Cancel Classes For Second Straight Day

Kendall Tietz 

Chicago Public Schools canceled classes for a second consecutive day Thursday because of a union decision to teach remotely, instead of in-person, according to a statement from the school district

Chicago Public Schools (CPS) locked teachers out of virtual learning platforms Wednesday and Thursday because of the teachers’ union’s decision to strike and refuse to teach in classrooms, according to a statement from the school district.

“Because many Chicago Teachers’ Union (CTU) members have chosen not to report to school buildings, we have made the difficult decision to cancel classes for a second consecutive day,” Chicago Public Schools said in a statement. “There will be no in-person or remote instruction tomorrow, Thursday, January 6, and parents and caregivers should not plan to send their children to school.”

“We apologize for the disruption that the union’s illegal work stoppage is causing your family,” the statement said.

The CTU voted Tuesday to move to remote learning on Wednesday, citing concerns over safety amid a rise in COVID-19 cases, the union said in a press release.

The CTU’s elected House of Delegates voted in favor (88%) of a resolution to return to remote education amid a surge of COVID-19 cases and the rise of the Omicron coronavirus variant, citing a lack of safety guarantees, the press release said. In the membership-wide vote, 73% of CTU’s members voted in favor of virtual learning, passing the two-thirds threshold required to enact the resolution.

The resolution outlines plans to work remotely until Jan. 18 or until the COVID-19 case wave falls below last year’s threshold for school closures, according to the resolution.

“The good news is that many staff members, including many teachers, chose to report to work today for in-person instruction,” the CPS statement said. “We have spent the day connecting with CPS principals to determine the level of instruction each school can offer CPS families. Some schools have enough staff reporting to work to return to in-person instruction as soon as Friday, January 7.”

For schools with limited capacity, learning packets and other instructional materials might be provided to families, the statement said. Principals will reach out to families directly to update them on the “level of instruction” they will be able to provide.

Critics from both sides of the political spectrum condemned the decision to cancel classes, accusing the union of harming students’ wellbeing and putting politics ahead of the needs of children, especially minority children who constitute the majority of CPS students.

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