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Afternoon Edition: Jan. 4, 2022

Today’s update is a 5-minute read that will brief you on the day’s biggest stories.

CPS CEO Pedro Martinez has asked the Chicago Teachers Union to delay a membership vote tonight. 
Brian Rich/Sun-Times

Good afternoon. Here’s the latest news you need to know in Chicago. It’s about a 5-minute read that will brief you on today’s biggest stories.

This afternoon will be partly sunny with a high of 35 degrees. Tonight will be mostly cloudy with a slight chance of snow showers and a low around 15 degrees. Tomorrow will also be mostly cloudy with a slight chance of snow showers and a high around 18 degrees.

Top story

CPS would cancel classes tomorrow if CTU doesn’t accept district’s latest proposal, CEO says

Chicago Teachers Union leaders are reviewing Chicago Public Schools’ latest proposal to avert a labor action expected as soon as tomorrow that would see members defy district plans and refuse in-person work because of COVID-19 concerns coming out of the holidays.

CPS CEO Pedro Martinez sent the last-ditch effort to meet the union halfway on some of its demands right before a City Hall news conference this morning where he said classes would be canceled tomorrow with no remote learning if the union doesn’t accept his proposal.

Martinez pleaded with the union to give his proposal a chance and asked leaders to delay a membership vote scheduled for this evening, which if it passes would upend in-person schooling once again for about 290,000 students at non-charter schools exactly 12 months after another CPS-CTU fight over pandemic safety measures left families in limbo for weeks.

“The amount of noise that’s out there right now, the amount of misinformation, we have so many people that are afraid, from parents to staff, because of the misinformation,” Martinez said. Asked specifically if he meant the CTU was spreading misinformation, he didn’t say.

Cases, positivity rate and hospitalizations in Chicago are all at or near record highs, largely because of the highly contagious Omicron variant that is causing infections to skyrocket, particularly after holiday gatherings. Breakthrough cases among the vaccinated have become more common, but the unvaccinated are several times more likely to suffer serious illness, Chicago Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said at the news conference.

Families likely won’t know if classes are canceled until after the CTU voting window closes at 9 p.m.

Nader Issa has more on the latest CTU-CPS standoff here.

More news you need

  1. An attorney for a Lyft driver claims the company left his client to fend for himself after a gunman shot at the driver’s vehicle, shattering his car’s back window, in Woodlawn last month. The driver plans to file a civil suit against the company in the coming weeks.
  2. Robbers hit three banks within four hours yesterday in Chicago and suburban Woodridge and Homewood. The FBI did not say if the robberies were related.
  3. In honor of late Oak Park native Betty White, the Chicago suburb will officially celebrate “Betty White Day” on Jan. 17 — when the beloved actress would have marked her 100th birthday. White, who passed away last Friday at her California home, often spoke fondly of her Oak Park roots and would return to visit family members.

A bright one

Evanston rug shop owner cleans, delivers rugs to homes of Afghan refugees

Shams Frough couldn’t believe what he was seeing on the news at the end of August. As U.S. forces prepared to leave Afghanistan, the Taliban were seizing more and more of the country he calls home.

Frough owns Kapisa Rugs, an Evanston shop specializing in traditional Afghan rugs. He also worked as an interpreter for the U.S. military in Afghanistan a decade ago and came to the United States on a special immigrant visa in 2014.

As hundreds of Afghan refugees were arriving in the Chicago area, Frough thought of something he could do: He’s helping to clean and deliver traditional rugs to the homes of the new arrivals.

Shams Frough at his store Kapisa Rugs in Evanston.
Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

More than 500 Afghan refugees have resettled in the Chicago area since September, according to the Cook County Board. In 2022, they expect 3,000 more.

A few weeks ago, Frough posted on the Facebook page of Refugee Community Connection, a neighborhood network distributing donated clothing and other necessities to refugee families.

Frough had watched as strangers offered beds, toys, clothes and sometimes carpets to the Afghan refugees. Organizers require that items be new or in like-new condition and clean, so he offered to arrange a discount so the group could save money on cleaning any rugs donated to the group.

Olivia Cohen has more on Frough’s efforts here.

From the press box

Your daily question ☕

Do you think CPS should implement remote learning? Why or why not?

Email us (please include your first name and where you live) and we might include your answer in the next Afternoon Edition.

Yesterday we asked you: What’s one way you hope 2022 is different from 2021?

Here’s what some of you said…

“That I don’t lose any more loved ones ‚ family and friends wise.” — Jaret Bunce

“That kids won’t go into yet another grade with COVID’s impact and restrictions. My daughter (like all kids) has had three grades impacted by COVID. Please not a fourth.” — Kristine Hulce Romano

“The end of the pandemic.” — Iwona Kelsch

“I would like to take care of less dying COVID patients.” — Andrew Johnstone

Thanks for reading the Chicago Afternoon Edition. Got a story you think we missed? Email us here.

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