‘This is not Chicago,’ New York City Mayor Eric Adams said this week on discussions with teachers union on COVID-19 safety, distance learning

Chicago (Greeley Tribune/CBSNew York/AP) — Recently inaugurated New York City Mayor Eric Adams took a shot at Chicago this week as he addressed a discussion with the city’s teachers union on distance learning and COVID-19 protocols.

As Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in Chicago, Adams has insisted that the safest place for children is to be at school. But on Thursday, Adams said he was considering allowing New York City public schools there to return to some sort of virtual instruction amid the COVID-19 boom, because “we have to be honest there’s a substantial number of kids, For whatever reason the parents are not bringing them to school.”

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Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers’ Union, which represents the city’s public school teachers, had personally asked the mayor to suspend learning since Adams took office.

Adams said Thursday that he is working closely with Mulgrew and is willing to entertain temporary distance learning, as long as it was a “quality option.”

“But my goal: I want kids in school,” Adams said.

The mayor insisted that the city would not see such a controversy in Chicago.

“This is not Chicago,” Adams said. “We can solve it. We can get out of these crises and we will find the right way to educate our children in a very safe environment.”

The Chicago teachers’ union voted last week to start working remotely as they put forward improved COVID-19 safety measures in schools coming off winter break amid a major increase in cases fueled by the more infectious Omicron variant. demanded.

Chicago public schools in turn canceled classes altogether for five days. Mayor Lightfoot and CPS called the teachers’ distance learning action “stopping illegal work,” while the CTU called it a lockdown.

“We asked CTU leadership — take a moment, review the plan, get back to us with feedback at the bargaining table, delay the vote — not to stop an illegal act,” Mayor Lightfoot said Tuesday night a week ago. “And to that, the answer was, ‘No, sorry, we’re moving on.'”

On Monday of this week, the CTU House of Delegates voted to end the distance learning action after an agreement was reached with the CPS. On Tuesday the teachers returned to the schools and on Wednesday the students returned.

Also on Wednesday, rank-and-file teachers voted to approve the deal, which would keep children in classes after those five days of classes canceled because of a standoff with the city over distance learning and virus testing.

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Union officials urged teachers to withdraw the deal despite frustration that the district would not demand widespread coronavirus testing or commit to distance learning across the district during the surge.

The agreement was passed with 55.54 percent pass. Less than 70 percent of total membership voted – only 19,000 teachers cast ballots.

The new agreement allows individual schools to return to distance learning, requires the district to provide KN-95 masks to students and staff, and lets schools decide whether they can reinstate a student health checker. want to do.

On Friday, hundreds of Chicago public school students walked out of classes, and a group of students later blocked traffic in a loop near State and Madison Streets – as they made the decision to resume learning in person. opposed.

Students organizing the walkout said they were not asked to contribute to a discussion about their academic and personal needs to feel safe going back to in-person classes during the Omicron surge of the pandemic.

The Chicago Public School Radical Youth Alliance or Chi-Reds organized the walkout. Dozens of students later gathered at CPS headquarters in the Loop to protest a return to in-person classes amid the ongoing surge of COVID-19 cases. Students walked out at several schools, including Percy Julian High School, Kenwood Academy High School, Lindblom Math and Science Academy, and Solorio Academy High School.

The things they are demanding include better contact tracing, restricting fans at sporting events and providing one full-time therapist for every 30 students.

Meanwhile in New York on Friday, Adams said he was going to make sure schools remain open, as city officials were negotiating a temporary withdrawal for distance learning students who are not showing up for class. , CBS 2 New York political reporter Marcia Kramer reported.

Mayer continued to reiterate his position that schools should remain open, just as businesses in New York City should bring back their employees.

“Schools are not closing. To be very clear on that, we are not closing our schools,” Adams said on Friday. “We are now talking with UFT on various ways we can make sure our children are educated in a very safe environment.”

Sources told CBS2 New York that talks between the New York City Department of Education, City Hall in New York and the United Federation of Teachers are expected to go on throughout the weekend – even on Monday, Dr. Martin Luther King Junior Day.

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(© Copyright 2022 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)