Chicago schools accused of restricting online teacher access after Union votes

Chicago Public Schools (CPS) canceled classes on Wednesday and is being accused of restricting access to teacher portals, as the teachers’ union closed the door to distance learning amid a rise in COVID-19 cases fueled by Omicron edition. Voted in favor.

The nation’s third-largest school district rejected a return to distance learning, but the Chicago Teachers’ Union (CTU) voted Tuesday to return to online learning with 73 percent approval. After canceling the classes, the CPS has now been accused of ousting teachers from the school’s online learning system.

CTU posted on Twitter, “We are getting a flood of calls and emails this morning from teachers who attempted to log into their platform to connect with their students and teach remotely and securely, but Mayor Lightfoot Locked by.”

Many teachers are posting their frustrations online with the hashtag #LoriLockout in reference to Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and her past struggles with the union.

One teacher wrote on Twitter, “Half of middle schoolers are in quarantine. More than half of my 5th grade kids are sick.” “I voted to work remotely because my school is not safe. I want to teach today, but the CPS shut me down. [The CTU] We didn’t call for strike or shutdown, we called for security.”

Another teacher posted, “Ready to teach, provide specialized instruction to diverse learners, draft IEPs and communicate with families,” but [Lightfoot, Chicago Public Schools chief executive officer Pedro Martinez, and CPS] I am locked. They are responsible for not getting the services my students are legally entitled to today.”

District officials have called the union’s action “stopping illegal work”, but teachers say they fear for the safety of their students and themselves as there are rising COVID cases.

“We like to teach in our classes, rather than we open schools,” CTU President Jesse Sharkey said during a news conference on Wednesday. “Although what we are saying is that right now we are in the middle of a big boom, it is breaking all records and hospitals are full. What happens if we don’t get a settlement is that the boom goes down. , and when the bounce subsides we’ll be back in orbit.”

newsweek CTU has been reached for comment.

Above, a sign on the fence outside Lowell Elementary School tells students, staff and visitors to wear masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19 on January 5, 2022 in Chicago. Members of the Chicago Teachers Association are accusing the district of restricting their online access, after they voted to return to virtual learning.
Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

Union members were instructed to try and log into teaching systems on Wednesday, even though the district said there would be no instruction and did not distribute equipment to students ahead of the union’s votes, which were announced Tuesday at 11 p.m. was done before.

District officials blamed the union for the late cancellation, despite safeguards including high teacher vaccination rates, adding that “our teachers are unwilling to report to work.”

“We are deeply concerned about this decision, but even more concerned about its impact on the health, safety and well-being of our students and families,” the district said in a statement.

District leaders said plans to “continue students’ education” would come later on Wednesday. School officials said that teachers who do not report to schools on Wednesday will not be compensated. During a similar debate last year, the district penalized teachers for not attending schools.

Keonna Payton, a teacher at Park Manor Elementary School, which chairs its safety committee, said she taught remotely on Monday and Tuesday because most of her students were at home on quarantine.

Peyton said she has been vaccinated and raised, and has a child who attends classes in the district, who is also vaccinated, but she fears the type spread in her family.

“I am doing my part to try to protect my children. However, I am afraid of this virus and the version because of how fast it is progressing and spreading,” she said during Wednesday’s news conference. said. “I’m scared because I have a husband, I have a young child and I have a 91-year-old grandmother with underlying health conditions and issues.”

Controversial issues in the district include metrics that will trigger school closures. The district proposed guidelines for individual school closures, stating that safety measures such as the availability of essential masks, vaccines and better ventilation make schools the safest places for children. But the union has proposed metrics for the district-wide bandh, citing risks to students and teachers.

There was a fierce battle over similar issues last January, prompting the district to return in person for the first time after going away in March 2020.

The schools’ CEO Pedro Martínez said the buildings would remain open to administrators, staff and “essential services” but did not have instructions for students in the district which is largely low-income and Black and Latino. District officials said that schools will offer meals from 9 am to 12 noon and that the COVID-19 test will continue as per schedule, but after-school activities will be cancelled. The district also provided a list of city sites with available daycare.

Responding to the union’s concerns, the district said it had provided 200,000 KN95 masks to teachers, would allow schools to bring back daily health check questions for students and build up visitors needed for the previous academic year, and individual schools. Will do the magic of the metrics to turn it off. For example, the district said it would switch to distance learning in primary school if more than 50 percent of its classrooms were instructed to isolate or quarantine more than 50 percent of its students.

The union, with about 25,000 members, reached an agreement last year seeking similar metrics for the closure of schools, which expire before the start of the new school year. For example, a districtwide two-week pause on in-person learning is included as the citywide COVID-19 test positivity rate rises for seven consecutive days.

Union leaders said more safety protocols are needed and that the COVID-19 increase is causing staff shortages. The district said about 82 percent of its nearly 21,600 teachers reported working Monday, which was below normal, but those classes were covered by substitute teachers and other staff.

District officials said the attendance of students for the week was not yet available.

According to the district, about 100,000 students and more than 91 percent of the 47,000 staff in the district have been vaccinated.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

CPS Welcome
Members of the Chicago Teachers Union are accusing Chicago public schools and Mayor Lori Lightfoot of restricting their access in retaliation for voting to return to distance learning amid the COVID-19 boom. Above, a sign on the fence outside Lowell Elementary School welcomes students to Chicago on January 5, 2022.
Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images