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Friday, January 21, 2022

Chicago teachers approve deal to end walkouts over COVID safety protocols

Members of the Chicago Teachers’ Union have accepted a safety agreement with Chicago public schools, ending a bitter dispute with Mayor Lori Lightfoot over COVID-19 safety protocols amid the city’s Omicron boom and how students will be protected in the near future. for classes.

The vote, which passed with 55.5% approval, an unusually close margin for CTU, came after students returned Wednesday, in some cases to schools where dozens of teachers were out, to report children to auditoriums. left and was sometimes taking online classes with his teachers. remote working. Overall, 70% of the union’s members voted, with 10,342 votes to accept the deal and 8,278 to reject it.

At a meeting of the House of Representatives on Wednesday evening, CTU leaders presented the deal to their 600 school representatives as “more than nothing, but less than what we wanted.” Teachers in virtual calls were upset with union officials, sometimes shouting at them, for reaching an agreement – and selling it to their members – that they felt was insufficient for their security demands. CTU President Jesse Sharkey redirected the blame to Lightfoot, who refused to budge personally to stop the school during some of the union’s key requests, such as increased testing and mechanisms.

“This vote is a clear display of dissatisfaction with the boss,” Sharkey said in a statement. “It is outrageous that teachers, school nurses, counselors and others had to endure a week of closure by the mayor to receive a commitment from his bargaining team to provide N95 masks to every student in a pandemic Can you

“Frankly speaking, we have a boss who doesn’t know how to negotiate, doesn’t know how to listen to genuine concerns and isn’t willing to respect our rank and file enough to listen to us. when we tell him we need more protection.”

Sharkey urged members to stay united and not let their disagreements overwhelm union solidarity last week.

Lightfoot and CPS CEO Pedro Martínez said they are “delighted that we have come to an agreement that guarantees predictability and stability for the rest of the school year.”

“We all agree that we must prioritize the health and well-being of everyone in our school communities, including our children, families and staff,” he said in a statement. “CPS principals will continue to work with their school-based security teams to make data-informed decisions in the best interest of students and families.”

The union had insisted the transition threshold would lead to system-wide school closures, as happened last year, but the district would not agree to it. The CPS also did not agree to an opt-out testing program that would have had all students signed up for COVID testing unless parents objected. The district also did not agree to distance learning this week as teachers had hoped.

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But officials agreed to increase testing in all schools to at least 10% of their student population. And the district is committed to setting up phone banks where staff will help parents make calls and ask for oral consent for testing.

When it came to individual school closures, the CPS entered into an agreement with the CTU and agreed to shut down a building for at least five days if 30% or more of its teachers were in two consecutive days due to positive cases or quarantine. days, and if the option can get an absence of not less than 25%. A school would also be closed if 40% of its students were under quarantine.

Whether or not missed days will be compensated for at the end of the year has yet to be determined – meaning CTU members do not know whether they will be paid for missed days.

Earlier on Wednesday, students returned to schools with a mix of optimism and anxiety.

“I think everyone should go home and be virtual because it seems like everyone in our building is just getting sick and sick and sick,” said Trinity Washington, a freshman at Roberto Clemente High School.

Washington, who admitted she isn’t always following mask rules at school, said time off and the recent hospitalization of a school dean put on ventilator inspired him to change his ways.

“I was like, ‘Oh no, this is serious,'” she said.

Fellow freshman Jayne McDonald said she is delighted to be back. “I love being in school. Having fun. I don’t want to be at home all day.”

Both said they support the actions of their teachers at CTU.

Senior Joshua Lopez said he also supports his teachers.

“I’m a little worried because I and my family have had COVID before and someone in the family is in critical condition, so I’m going to support the teachers,” Lopez said. “But I don’t mind coming back to school. I mean, I know it’s dangerous too, but at least I get to see my friends.”

World Nation News Deskhttps://www.worldnationnews.com
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