Teachers in the district returned to work on Tuesday, when the 25,000 union members voted to approve or reject the compromise reached with the district.
“I’m certainly relieved to go back to class and see my students, and my kids are really excited to be back too,” said Kathryn Rose, a Chicago teacher and mother of school-aged children. “It was frustrating just sitting at home healthy and wanting to be in class.”
Rose said she had always felt safe with the school’s mitigation measures and did not think a district-wide closure was necessary.
“When you close schools, you ignore the myriad of dangers outside the classroom, like abuse, hunger, and lack of warmth and violence. And these are things Chicago families really care about. taken, ”Rose said.
Xuan-Vu Nguyen, whose 12-year-old son is a student in the district, said she was also relieved at the schools reopening. “My first reaction was, ‘Yeah!'”
But, she added, “We are worried if and when this will happen again without any notice.”
Parents were not notified in advance of the school closing and her family had to give up everything to adjust to the change, Nguyen said, frustrating her. “As a parent, I was powerless. Nowhere to express my concerns, nowhere to ask questions, really, about when this was going to end.”
Union members vote on proposed deal
The tentative agreement between the union, CTU and the district will run through the remainder of the school year, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said on Monday.
As part of the deal, Covid-19 testing in schools will increase by up to 10% of each school’s students tested each week, CTU chief of staff Jen Johnson said.
The mayor’s office will work with the teachers’ union to urge families to increase test consents, Lightfoot said. “It is an essential element,” she said. “We want to achieve as many consent tests as possible.”
The proposal includes details on contact tracing and new incentives to increase the number of substitutes in the district, the mayor said.
The two sides also “came to an agreement on measures for, at the school level, when we need to convert a classroom or a school to go distance. Not surprisingly, the building blocks of this depend on absences from the school. staff and / or students, “she said.
Full details of the deal were to be released after the union’s base members voted on the proposal.
Voting began late Tuesday and is expected to be open for 24 hours, in time for a regular CTU House of Delegates meeting on Wednesday afternoon, a union official told CNN on Tuesday.
The proposal is expected to be approved by members, the union official said.
If grassroots union members reject the proposed deal, the decision on how to proceed would rest with the House of Delegates. Options could include staying in person while negotiations continue or reverting to a push for distance learning courses while final negotiations continue.
The pandemic affects schools across the country
The stalemate in Chicago began last week when the union voted to start teaching virtually due to the increase in Covid-19 cases in the school system. In response, the school district canceled classes during negotiations.
On January 4, the last day students were in classrooms, Chicago public schools reported 422 new cases of Covid-19 among students and 271 new cases among adults – both records for the year school.
Superintendent Larry Chavez said the change is due to a spike in Covid-19 cases. “The SFPS ended last week with 361 cases involving students and staff, the largest on record in a week for our district, and many are still under investigation. 600 this week and we’ve seen an increase in the spread in classrooms, ”Chavez said.
CNN’s Omar Jimenez, Raja Razek, Amir Vera and Adrienne Broaddus contributed to this report.