Chicago Public Schools remained closed for the third day Friday. At this time, the Chicago Teachers Union says that won’t change until their demands are met. Now, they stand in defiance of local, state, and federal leaders.
The Chicago Teachers Union’s list of demands includes the ability to test students for COVID without parental consent. Additionally, they want an agreement from the city to allow schools to go to virtual learning if 20% of the staff is out sick. They’re also demanding that all students supply a negative COVID test before returning to in-person classes. Until these things happen, they say, Chicago’s public schools will remain closed.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot refuses to back down, according to The Daily Mail. About the CTU’s testing demand, she said, “You’re not going to be in a world where we do a quasi-medical procedure on little children without their parents’ affirmative, written consent.” At the same time, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker is doing all he can to get Chicago Public Schools open again.
Pritzker told Bloomberg News that he has reached out to the Biden administration for help. “I spoke in the last couple of days with the White House to ask them for help for Chicago Public Schools,” he said. “There is a challenge all over the nation in need of testing but I think there is an urgent need in Chicago because we want to get those kids back in school.”
Federal Assistance for Chicago Public Schools
Joe Biden wants to see Chicago’s students back in school. As a result, his Education Secretary, Miguel Cardona, is talking to both sides of the dispute. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Cardona is in talks with both Randi Weingarten, the head of the CTU’s parent union, and Chicago Public Schools CEO Pedro Martinez. In those talks, Cardona “underscored the importance of in-person learning.”
Additionally, Cardona offered the Department of Education’s assistance to Chicago Public Schools. He hopes they can help CPS “implement mitigation strategies to get kids back in school in person.” These strategies, he said, would get kids back in school while also protecting the health and wellbeing of “teachers, educators, and the community.”
No End in Sight
According to the Daily Mail, the CTU will continue to work remotely until January 18th unless city officials meet their demands or the current omicron surge dies down. Martinez and Lightfoot, have both said they have no plans of giving in. “There are so many things we could partner on. Instead, they chose an illegal, unilateral action that throws the whole system into chaos and makes us a laughingstock all across the country,” Mayor Lightfoot said.
The Chicago Teachers Union’s demands are the most extreme. Their proposed COVID restrictions surpass those of both NYC and LA.