Lightfoot Says Possible CTU Distance Learning Vote Equates ‘Illegal Work Stoppage’ – NBC Chicago

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Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has lambasted the Chicago Teachers Union’s efforts to endorse the switch to distance learning, saying such a vote would amount to an “illegal work stoppage” and that the city believes that children are safer in classrooms thanks to investments made in a variety of mitigations.

During a press conference regarding the city’s security plans for 2022, Lightfoot was asked about the impending CTU vote, and she dismissed the switch to distance learning as an unnecessary step amid an increase in COVID cases caused by the omicron variant.

“The worst thing we can do is shut down the whole system,” she said. “What we need to focus on is working together. What I would like to see WCB do is not force an illegal work stoppage. What I would like to see them do is work hand in hand with us to get children and their families immunized.

Lightfoot’s remarks come as teachers at CTU are set to vote on whether to switch to distance learning. CPS officials said such a vote would trigger a cancellation of classes on Wednesday, and the mayor said a return to distance learning, however temporary, would cause undue hardship for both students and their parents. .

“Dr. Allison Arwady tells me that the schools are safe and that there is no reason to shut down the whole system,” she said. “If we take a break, what do we tell these parents? who cannot afford to hire someone to come and look after their children, or to send their children elsewhere? What do we say to these students who are having difficulties? “

Union officials dispute the mayor’s characterization of the vote, telling NBC 5 the decision would not be a pullout or strike, but tentatively aim to continue remote learning until mid-January.

At a press conference on Tuesday, Arwady said she was “85 to 90 percent” confident that the surge caused by the omicron could subside by the end of the month, but said he was impossible to predict when the peak of cases would be reached. .

As of Tuesday, the city was reporting nearly 4,600 new cases of COVID per day, according to data from the CRPD.

Amid that wave, teachers and CPS officials continued to negotiate safety protocols and other mitigation measures, but no agreement was reached on how to proceed with the school year.

CTU leaders argued that the current wave is making teachers and students more vulnerable and that the district has already botched safety protocols, including a vacation testing program and data collection.

“I am so pissed off that we have to constantly fight for basic necessities,” said Stacy Davis Gates, vice president of the union.

The CTU vote is expected to end around 9 p.m. If the vote to return to distance learning passes, CPS officials say classes will be canceled on Wednesday and distance learning will not take place.

Lightfoot says she is determined to continue negotiations with the union on mitigation measures, but believes that a targeted approach to school closures and in-person learning changes is the best way forward. to follow.

“Raise our hands and act like we don’t have this body of knowledge that our schools are safe, that we’ve spent $ 100 million to make them safe, and that we have the vaccine, we don’t need to. a single model – a one-size-fits-all strategy, ”she declared.


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