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A Message from Chicago Public Schools
In the past two weeks, we have safely welcomed thousands of students back to their schools, and staff have been working tirelessly to prepare for many more in the days ahead. Similar to the thousands of schools across Illinois and the nation that have safely reopened this year, our students and teachers wore face coverings, socially distanced, and learned together safely.
That’s why we were disappointed to learn from CTU leadership earlier this week that it would vote to stop providing in-classroom instruction beginning January 25, and effectively cancel in-person learning for the tens of thousands of students who asked to return — and the thousands of pre-k and cluster students who are already learning safely in classrooms. Our collective bargaining agreement includes a no-strike clause, and the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board has ruled that an action of this nature would be an illegal strike.
We are continuing to meet every day with CTU leadership — just as we have more than 60 times in the past several months — and we are optimistic that an agreement is within reach. The union’s input has helped strengthen our reopening plans in a number of ways, and we agree on far more than we disagree. However, we must center our conversations on how to reopen schools safely, not on if it is time to reopen schools. Data collected since the spring has shown us we have an educational crisis happening nationally, and here in Chicago, tens of thousands of families have told us remote learning is simply not working for their children.
The Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) along with other public health officials at the state and federal level have determined that schools can reopen safely with mitigation strategies in place, and we have worked in lockstep with CDPH to implement health and safety protocols that will allow us to reopen schools in a safe and responsible manner. Our plan was created with the health and safety of students and staff as the absolute top priority, and we have invested $100 million and countless hours of planning to ensure our school communities are safe.
We understand that returning to classrooms is a major transition for everyone. COVID-19 has caused immense pain in our communities, and our Black and Latinx families have been hit hardest. But our students and families are counting on us, and we have to listen to the guidance of public health experts who have said time and again that schools can safely reopen. They have found not just that school is safe with the right mitigations, but that our students are suffering greatly because they cannot learn in person with their peers.
As we head into the weekend, we are continuing to meet regularly with our union partners, and it is our goal to reach an agreement that places the needs of students first. We will keep you updated this weekend as the situation unfolds, and we thank you for your continued patience and support.
Janice K. Jackson, EdD LaTanya D. McDade
Chief Executive Officer Chief Education Officer
Chicago Public Schools Chicago Public Schools
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