Chicago Teachers Union Threatens School Shutdowns Over Delta Variant

Chicago Teachers Union Threatens School Shutdowns Over Delta Variant

The Chicago Teachers Union is using the delta variant of COVID-19 to demand extreme mitigation measures “at a minimum” in Windy City schools this fall. If case numbers go up, the union is ordering that the city “pause in-person instruction.”

In a letter to Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the Chicago Board of Education, the teachers union “strongly recommend[ed]” that the officials meet with the educators just a few weeks before schools in the Chicago Public Schools district are scheduled to open to clearly outline “plans and proposals for safety in the upcoming year.”

“We strongly recommend that Mayor Lightfoot come to the bargaining table or empower her team to sign off on a plan that, at a minimum, provides the safety and supports that educators valiantly fought for last winter and spring,” the union said. “Merely surviving the COVID-19 pandemic is not enough. CPS needs to earn the trust and confidence of families across the city, and by joining our union team for open bargaining, we can reach that goal together.”

In the letter, the union proudly bragged about blocking public school reopening in Chicago last year before calling for more COVID-19 directed actions beyond Illinois Democrat Gov. J. B. Pritzker’s newest science-denying mask mandate for schools and daycares.

“Our school communities need more than masking to ensure safety — especially as we continue to learn about the Delta variant,” the Chicago Teachers Union wrote.

In addition to nagging the district to make “ventilation upgrades,” the union members also insisted that officials create a regular COVID-19 testing plan regardless of anyone’s vaccination status, implement contact-tracing, and provide “maintenance of criteria and health metrics based on COVID prevalence to pause in-person instruction.”

Outside of COVID-19 mitigation efforts, the union also demanded that the district hire more full-time nurses, social workers, and counselors for every individual school and create a “comprehensive home visit program to engage students and families in every school community.” Last week, the union claimed that many of the schools in the district “were already in crisis before the COVID-19 pandemic due to years of neglect and structural racism.”

These “gaps” in the city and district’s response, the union continued, “must be closed before the fall return.”

“Mayor Lightfoot, there is $4 billion in federal funding that you have to invest in our schools and communities — a once-in-a-generation opportunity to provide all of our students with the staff and services they deserve,” the letter concluded.

It wasn’t until March of this year that Chicago students were able to return to classrooms for in-person schooling after the teachers union finally relented in its fight against the city for what it labeled a “safe reopening.” According to the deal struck between the union and officials, the district was supposed to provide “at least 1,500 first vaccine doses per week” to educators and school employees. Any teachers who were unable to become fully vaccinated before the schools’ reopening date were not “required to resume in-person learning.”

Jordan Davidson is a staff writer at The Federalist. She graduated from Baylor University where she majored in political science and minored in journalism.
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